MANKATO, Minn. (Nov. 30, 2019) - The No. 9 Colorado State University-Pueblo football team had its season come to an end Saturday at No. 4 Minnesota State University, Mankato, as the ThunderWolves fell in the second round of the NCAA Division II Playoffs, 35-7.
The ThunderWolves finished the season with an 11-2 record for the second straight season. The 11 wins marked the seventh time since 2011 the Pack have reached at least 11 victories. The Pack made their seventh appearance in the NCAA Division II postseason and it was the sixth time they reached at least the second round.
Minnesota State (12-0) totaled 547 yards with a balanced attack, as it had 290 yards rushing and 257 yards passing. The ThunderWolves had 176 yards of offense with 105 coming on the ground. The Pack defense totaled four turnovers with two fumble recoveries and two interceptions. CSU-Pueblo finished the season with 30 interceptions and 39 takeaways. The Pack entered the game leading NCAA Division II in interceptions and tied for first in takeaways.
The seniors guided the defense one last time, as the top four tacklers were student-athletes playing their final game.
Senior Kyle Rosenbrock (ILB, Brush, Colo.) led the team with 12 tackles (eight solo) with two tackles for loss (-2 yards) and a breakup. Senior Jackson Wibbels (DE, Colorado Springs, Colo.) added eight tackles (three solo).
Senior Amu Aukusitino (DB, Anchorage, Alaska) recorded six tackles (three solo), brought in interceptions in the first and fourth quarters and recovered a fumble. He finished the season leading the team with six interceptions.
Senior Jamaal Sears (S, Surprise, Ariz.) also totaled six tackles (four solo).
Sophomore Marcus Lindsay (RB, Aurora, Colo.) finished with 92 yards on 15 carries for an average of 6.1 yards per carry. His long rush of 49 yards set up the Pack's lone touchdown. He also led the team in receiving yards with 24 on one catch.
The ThunderWolves were without their top running back in junior D.J. Penick (Evanston, Ill.) and wide receiver Dionte Sykes (Chandler, Ariz.), who had the second most receiving yards for the team this season. Both were out due to injury.
Sophomore quarterback Jordan Kitna (Dallas, Texas) went 9-for-17 () for 71 yards.
Redshirt-freshman Justin Dwinell (Colorado Springs, Colo.) punted eight times and totaled 304 yards to average 38 yards per kick. He placed two inside the 20.
The Mavericks took their first drive to the end zone on five plays after getting the ball at midfield thanks to the Pack punting into the wind. The score remained 7-0 after the first.
The Pack had the wind at their back in the second quarter, but couldn't capitalize until late in the quarter. MSU scored twice to take a 21-0 lead, thanks to two interceptions that set up a short field. CSU-Pueblo had thrown just four interceptions all season and ranked tied for sixth in the nation in the category.
CSU-Pueblo got its only score of the game just 29 seconds after going down 21-0. After the kickoff went out of bounds and a 15-yard penalty by the Mavericks was tacked on, the ThunderWolves had the ball at the 50. Lindsay took the first play 49 yards to the Maverick one-yard line and then sophomore running back Nick Bingham (El Paso, Texas) punched it in for the score. The touchdown came with 2:40 left in the second and the teams went into the locker room with MSU winning 21-7.
Minnesota State only needed a minute to score to start the second half, as they produced a 74-yard pass play. A 14-0 quarter for the Mavericks handed the home team a 35-7 lead that would hold for the rest of the game.