Oct 16, 2010 9:42 PM by Jordan Mason
PUEBLO, Colo. (GoThunderWolves.com - Oct. 16, 2010) - Timing is everything.
It's a lesson the CSU-Pueblo football team learned harshly Saturday, watching two would-be touchdowns erased on account of untimely mistakes as 13th-ranked Nebraska-Kearney turned a neck-and-neck affair into a near blowout, claiming a 38-24 win at the Thunderbowl Saturday.
The loss is the second straight for CSU-Pueblo (5-2, 3-2 RMAC) and suddenly puts the Pack in a long-shot position for an RMAC title.
CSU-Pueblo's second half performance unraveled a strong first half in which the offense was clicking and the defense was making its trademark key stops in the red zone.
An opening drive into the Pack's red zone by Nebraska-Kearney was held up as the Lopers took a 3-0 opening lead, and stopped a would-be Loper score on a fake field goal attempt in the first half.
Offensively, the Pack took a 7-3 lead on a 71-yard rush by Jesse Lewis (Jr., Loveland, Colo.) in the first quarter, and took a lead in the third quarter when Ross Dausin (So., San Antonio, Tex.) placed a perfect throw into the hands of Derek Gainey (Sr., Aurora, Colo.) as the ThunderWolves claimed a 14-10 advantage midway through the third quarter.
But just as it had the previous two times it faced Nebraska-Kearney since 2008, both Loper blowouts, defensive breakdowns and a trio of offensive mistakes by CSU-Pueblo broke the game wide open for the Lopers.
The first hurtful mistake came as Nebraska-Kearney was up 24-14 in the fourth quarter, and Dausin hit Jared Sperber (Jr., Oakley, Kan.) for a would-be 36-yard catch-and-run touchdown. But a holding penalty undid the score and CSU-Pueblo would only add a field goal on the drive.
Later, as CSU-Pueblo was trailing 31-17, Jamaal Johnson (Jr., Fountain, Colo.) was a running a would-be touchdown into the end zone when he fumbled at the goal line, shooting the ball out of the end zone and handing the ball the Lopers on a touchback.
In each case, Nebraska-Kearney all-conference receiver Kyle Kaiser made big plays on the offensive side of the ball that made the ThunderWolves pay. He was wide open repeatedly, catching three touchdown passes, including a pair of 70-plus yard touchdown receptions in the fourth quarter. He finished with 10 catches for 282 yards while the Lopers put up 587 yards of offense.
CSU-Pueblo will try to regroup from the loss with a road trip to Mesa State next Friday night before returning home for a Hall of Fame Game showdown with New Mexico Highlands on Oct. 30.