Mustangs comeback effort falls short against CSU-Pueblo

No. 9 Midwestern State wasn't about to go down without a fight Saturday afternoon in the second round of the NCAA Division II Playoffs at Memorial Stadium.

The Mustangs, who had faced deficits in nine games this season, just didn't have enough to overtake No. 4-ranked Colorado State-Pueblo as the Thunderwolves came away  with a 26-17 win.

CSU-Pueblo moves onto the national qaurterfinals next week to play host to Grand Valley State (Mich.) at the ThunderBowl in Pueblo.

The Thunderwolves marched right down the field on the opening two possessions scoring on a A.J. Thompson-to-Kieren Duncan 48-yard strike off of a play-action fake on the opening drive of the game.

CSU-Pueblo then moved the ball 40 yards on four plays on its next possession to take a 14-0 lead on a 10-yard run by Bernard McDondle with 8:12 to go in the opening quarter.

The Thunderwolves extended the lead to 17-0 heading into halftime on a 19-yard field goal by Greg O'Donnell to cap off a methodical 16-play, 94-yard drive midway through the second quarter.

CSU-Pueblo piled 246 yards of total offense while totally dominating the opening half of play.

The Thunderwolves extended the lead to 20-0 on O'Donnell's 28-yard field goal four minutes into the second half to cap off an eight-play, 74-yard drive.

Midwestern State's defense asserted its will over the final 25 minutes limiting the Thunderwolves to 27 yards over their last eight possessions of the game.

MSU junior defensive end Cory Faiva created the first break of the game for the Mustangs when he stripped Cameron McDondle and recovered a fumble at the CSU-Pueblo 16-yard line with 9:24 to play in the third quarter.

Quade Coward connected with Levy Wilson on the next play for a 16-yard touchdown to put the Mustangs on the board.

MSU clawed closer after an errant punt snap gave the Mustangs possession on the CSU-Pueblo 25-yard line which resulted in a 42-yard field goal by Alex Alkhazshvilly to narrow the CSU-P lead to 20-10.

The Mustangs took advantage of a second fumble as Tyler Massey on a bad exchange between CSU-Pueblo quarterback A.J. Thompson and Bernard McDondle at the CSU-P 23-yard line.

Hagen Hutchinson hit Derek Lockhart on a 18-yard post route to the 1-yard line on the next play before Dante Taylor plunged in from a yard out to pull MSU to within 23-17 with 9:31 to play.

The Mustangs would get no closer as O'Donnell extended the Thunderwolves' advantage back to two possessions with a 45-yard field goal with 3:58 to play.

Colorado State-Pueblo held MSU to a season low 183 yards of offense as the Mustangs were led by sophomore Don Jerry, who rushed for 54 yards on 10 carries.

Cameron McDondle paced the Thunderwolves with 160 yards on 43 carries, while brother Bernard McDondle had 161 yards on 16 totes.

Senior safety Marqui Christian paced a stellar defensive effort for Midwestern with a game-high 12 tackles. The Spring native closes his career as MSU's all-time tackles leader with 295.

Senior linebacker Daniel Laudermilk, the LSC's Linebacker of the Year, posted nine tackles including two for loss and a sack. The Austin native finishes with a team-high 99 tackles this season and is tied for fourth on MSU's all-time tackle list with 261.

Senior defensive end Harold Wills continued his stellar play to end the season as the first-team All-Lone Star Conference performer made nine stops including 2.5 for loss.

Midwestern State closes the season with a 10-2 record to match the program record in wins as MSU also claimed 10 victories in 1949, 2006 and 2011.