Sep 2, 2011 2:29 AM by Lee Douglas/CSU-Pueblo
CANYON, Tex. - Wednesday night, CSU-Pueblo offensive line coordinator, Chris Symington, accepted an unreal challenge of tackling a 72-ounce porterhouse steak at the Big Texas Steakhouse in Canyon, Tex. If he could take down the steak with all the fixins in an hour or less, the dinner would be free.
With several bites remaining and just one minute left, he choked down the last few bites to complete the challenge and get his name in lights.
Twenty-four hours later, he and the rest of the ThunderWolves faced down the challenge that was 19th-ranked West Texas A&M and held on to beat the Buffaloes 26-24.
In front of one of the largest road crowds ever encountered by CSU-Pueblo at nearly 8,000 strong, the ThunderWolves overcame early mistakes and miscues to pull off the upset.
In the Pack's first offensive series, a would-be three-and-out was undone by a fumble by Ross Dausin (Jr., San Antonio, Tex.) on the quarterback keeper, setting the Buffaloes up with a 1st-and-10 on the Pack 24-yard-line.
West Texas A&M immediately responded as Tommy Hampton ran for a score on the Buffs' first play from the scrimmage, resulting in a 7-0 lead just 1:15 into the game.
It was the second straight season in which the Buffaloes scored on their first play from scrimmage, and just as it did last season against Grand Valley State, it would lose the game.
West Texas A&M would go up 10-0 before another would-be scoring drive was undone when Damon Schiele (Jr., Aurora, Colo.) picked off a Dustin Vaughan pass to set the Pack up near midfield. Two plays later, Dausin hit Deontrae Cooper (RFr., Riverside, Calif.) for a 56-pass down to the 1-yard-line. He later ran the ball in on a quarterback sneak to cut the lead to 10-7.
The Buffs answered right back with a 71-yard touchdown pass from Tanner Marsh to Brittan Golden, putting the Buffs up 17-7.
The ThunderWolves used the rest of the 2nd quarter to battle its way back into the game, going on a 13-play, 74-yard drive that resulted in another quarterback sneak by Dausin, cutting the lead to 17-14.
Late in the half, after Josh Costa (Sr., Nanakuli, Hawaii) recovered a Khiry Robinson fumble, Kyle Major (Sr., Littleton, Colo.) hit the first of a career-high four field goals on the night, equaling his career-long with a 52-yarder to tie the game at 17 going into halftime.
The scoring stalled considerably in the second half, but West Texas A&M's offense certainly picked up. After gaining just five total yards rushing in the first half on the ThunderWolves, it opened up for 136 in the second half. It also ran its passing total to 415 yards, logging a total of 556 net yards of total offense, compared to just 238 for the Pack.
Despite all that, CSU-Pueblo made stops when it needed two, forcing four turnovers in the game and stopping West Texas A&M twice on fourth down, keeping them out of the end zone. Big plays on special teams and defense, including a 62-yard punt return by Josh Sandoval (So., Pueblo, Colo.) and a 46-yard interception return by C.J. Roberts (RFr., Boynton Beach, Fla.), set up vital scored as the Pack inched closer to the lead.
The Pack would take its first lead of the night with five minutes remaining in the game as Major booted a 40-yarder to put the Pack up 26-24. From there, it was up to a defense that was looking to redeem itself after giving up boatloads of yardage on the night.
The Buffs were seemingly moving the ball at will, taking little chunks out of the defense as it advanced to the Pack 40-yard-line, facing a 2nd-and-5 situation. But the ThunderWolves forced three straight incompletions, including a 4th-and-5 stop that gave the ball back to the Pack with 1:33 remaining.
CSU-Pueblo couldn't muster any offense, but a punt pinned the Buffs back to their own 10-yard-line with 38 seconds remaining. But a sack by Darius Allen (Fr., Pueblo, Colo.) and a fourth-and-forever stop iced the win for the Pack.
The Pack's win in the first ever meeting between the two schools marks just the fifth win over a Lone Star Conference school in CSU-Pueblo history. It was the 16th time it had played an LSC school and just the second time since football returned in 2008 (The Pack had earned a win in 2009 over Eastern New Mexico).
CSU-Pueblo, virtually assured of appearing in next week's American Football Coaches' Association national rankings following the win, will return home for its home opener after a nine-day layover on Sept. 10 when NAIA power Northwestern Oklahoma State comes to town.