ALVA, Okla. - Saturday, the 2012 ThunderWolves learned a valuable lesson in preparing for each and every opponent, avoiding a dogfight - and an upset - as it pulled out a 41-24 win over Northwestern Oklahoma State.
Saturday's game had all the makings for a blowout. CSU-Pueblo had outscored the Rangers by a total of 96-10 in its two previous meetings in Pueblo the last two seasons, and the Rangers were coming off a very underwhelming season-opening loss 55-3 loss to Ouachita Baptist.
But the Pack learned firsthand that nothing could be taken for granted in Division II football.
The Pack started off with a solid first half, driving into Northwestern Oklahoma State territory on each of their first five possessions. The opening drive, however, ended badly as the Pack failed to convert on a 4th down in Ranger territory, turning away the Pack's first key scoring opportunity.
They responded, however, with three straight touchdown drives, the first coming on a touchdown toss from Ross Dausin (Sr., San Antonio, Texas) to Deontrae Cooper (So., Riverside, Calif.) in the first quarter. The Pack followed that up with another drive for a score as Dausin hit Josh Sandoval (Jr., Pueblo, Colo.) from 12 yards out to take a 14-0 lead.
The Pack ran it to 20-0 after tailback Chris Ashe (RFr., Widefield, Colo.) plunged the ball in for a score from a 1-yard out midway through the second quarter.
From there, however, the Pack's fortunes dried up in the short term.
Northwestern Oklahoma State scored right before halftime to cut the lead to 20-7, then added 14 points in the third quarter to take an unlikely lead and make a bid for a huge upset.
Luckily, another Pack drive, helped along by a bruising run after a catch by Roger Pfannenschmid (Sr., Pueblo, Colo.) to the Ranger 10-yard-line, restored the Pack's lead. Ashe ran in another score to give the ThunderWolves a tenuous 28-21 lead after a two-point conversion.
After a quick 3-and-out by the Rangers, the ThunderWolves drove again Dausin hit Sandoval for another touchdown pass, giving the Pack at a 34-21 lead after the second missed PAT of the night.
Dausin helped put it away as he turned in a touchdown by foot with his fourth total touchdown on an option run in the 4th quarter, diffusing the upset bid and putting the Pack up 41-24.
Despite the win, it was hardly the Pack's finest hour, considering it was just over a week ago that the ThunderWolves knocked off a nationally-ranked West Texas A&M squad while Northwestern Oklahoma State lost by 52.
"We all need to a do a better job if we want to win the RMAC," CSU-Pueblo head coach John Wristen said. "Sometimes, when you have some success, you feel like you can turn it on whenever you want and I think that's what happened tonight."
"But I do like the way we answered when we had the chance. Bottom line is we came out with a 'W'."
Now at 2-0 for the fourth time in five seasons after claiming its first ever win on the road at Northwestern Oklahoma State, CSU-Pueblo will remain on the road as it opens its RMAC schedule next Saturday at Western New Mexico.
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