LAS VEGAS, N.M.- The No. 17 Colorado State University-Pueblo defense and special teams totaled six takeaways to help guide the ThunderWolves to a 31-14 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference road win at New Mexico Highlands University.
The Pack (5-1, 4-1 RMAC) brought down four interceptions and recovered two fumbles, one of which was for a special teams touchdown, to total 21 points off turnovers.
Thanks to 15 tackles for loss, which included six sacks, NMHU (0-5, 0-5 RMAC) finished with -68 yards rushing, a new program record for the defense. The Cowboys passed for 243 yards to finish with 175 total yards. CSU-Pueblo rushed for 184 yards and three scores and grabbed 261 total offensive yards.
Last week senior outside linebacker James Maxie (Parker, Colo.) grabbed weekly honors from the RMAC, National Football Foundation-Colorado Chapter and D2Football.com, then followed his performance by leading the team with eight tackles (five solo), which included 2.5 tackles for loss (-20 yards), a sack (-14 yards) and a fumble recovery.
Starting in his second straight game at nose guard, senior Brady Opp (Castle Pines, Colo.) totaled five tackles with 3.5 tackles for loss (-9 yards) and a sack (-3 yards.). Getting the start at inside linebacker was Max Gonzales (So., Aurora, Colo.). He had five tackles (four solo) with an interception and a half tackle for loss (-3 yards). Jamaal Sears (Sr., S., Surprise, Ariz.) and Marcus Lawrence (Jr., CB, Aurora, Colo.) had the other interceptions.
The Pack recorded their first special teams touchdown of the season when a high snap on a punt attempt by the Cowboys rolled all the way to the end zone and junior Dylan Allbrandt (Jr., OLB, Cañon City, Colo.) jumped on the ball for six.
On offense, D.J. Penick (Jr., RB, Evanston, Ill.) had 96 yards of total offense with 67 rushing and 29 through the air. He scored twice on the ground. Senior running back Austin Micci (Colorado Springs, Colo.) added a team-best 74 yards on the ground with a long run of 20 yards.
Redshirt-freshman punter Justin Dwinell (Colorado Springs, Colo.) totaled 313 yards on six punts to average 52.2 yards per punt, which included a long of 77 yards. He had three travel more than 50 yards. Junior kicker Mitchell Carter (Colorado Springs, Colo.) scored seven points on four extra points and a field goal from 32 yards out.
The Pack got out to a 21-0 lead in a span of six minutes of game clock. The first score came on a Penick 20-yard rush to the paint with 1:59 left in the first. Just a minute into the second is when Allbrandt hopped on the ball on the miscue punt by NMHU to make it 14-0. With 11:11 left in the second, sophomore Gunnar Lamphere (QB, Aurora, Colo.) carried the ball five yards across the goal line to cap a 22-yard drive that was setup by the Maxie recovery.
NMHU caught the defense twice for big scores. The first came with 3:30 left in the second, which was a 77-yard pass play.
At the break, CSU-Pueblo led 21-7.
The only score of the third was a 53-yard pass play midway through the quarter by the Cowboys and all of a sudden the home team was within one score entering the fourth at 21-14.
Ten points in the fourth sealed the deal for the ThunderWolves. Carter's kick made it a two-score game at 24-14 with 11:04 left and then on the ensuing NMHU drive, junior Frank Umu (DE, Littleton, Colo.) jumped on a loose ball to hand the Pack offense the rock at the home team's 16 yard line. On the first play of the drive, Penick had his second score of the day and he spun off a tackle to find the end zone.
The defense made sure there would be no comeback and the ThunderWolves celebrated their fourth road win of the season.
Next up for the Pack are two home games, the first of which is a homecoming contest against Colorado Mesa University, Oct. 19. Kickoff is set for 2 p.m. at the Neta and Eddie DeRose ThunderBowl.
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As a member of the Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference, Colorado State University - Pueblo competes in 22 varsity sports in NCAA Division II intercollegiate athletics.