Steve Lewis/Durango Herald
Fort Lewis College had a chance for awhile to trade blows with the No. 3 football team in the nation.
But untimely penalties and other small mistakes kept CSU-Pueblo’s drives alive and stymied a handful of FLC opportunities, and the ThunderWolves made the most of them to stay unbeaten with a 50-21 victory over the Skyhawks on Saturday at Ray Dennison Memorial Field.
A face-mask penalty on third down kept CSU-Pueblo’s first scoring drive alive. Two pass interference penalties and an unsportsmanlike conduct helped set up the ThunderWolves inside the FLC 10 on another touchdown drive. A couple of penalties wiped out big FLC gains before an interception off a tipped pass ended the Skyhawks’ drive while down 29-7.
FLC’s Van Gramman was stopped short on fourth-and-goal from the 2 in the first quarter. And a tipped pass led to C.J. Roberts’ 95-yard interception return for a score and the final CSU-Pueblo tally.
“Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers and the penalties, gah,” FLC head coach Cesar Rivas-Sandoval said. “They kept their drives going and just destroyed ours. ... Just because we’re frustrated is not a hall pass to say anything to the officials, ever.”
Almost in spite of the mistakes, the FLC offense ate up tons of yards, finishing with a 570-415 advantage in total offense. Tim Jenkins threw for a career-best 501 yards and three touchdowns after throwing for 405 the week before.
The main beneficiary of Jenkins’ career day was his roommate, wide receiver Doyle Bode, who hauled in 14 passes for 168 yards and an 18-yard touchdown that cut the ThunderWolves’ lead to 14-7 midway through the second quarter.
The chemistry between Jenkins and Bode, not to mention the rest of the receiving corps, has allowed the Skyhawks (0-4, 0-3 Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference) to get the offense moving more in the right direction should they ever be able to eliminate the small mistakes that’ve plagued it in the last two losses.
“We have a good rapport on and off the field, and we just kind of have our own language on the field,” Bode said. “He knows what I’m thinking; I know what he’s thinking. We see the holes in the defense, and we attack it.”
CSU-Pueblo quarterback Ross Dausin had a strong day himself, throwing for 275 yards and five touchdowns against no interceptions. He hit Josh Sandoval, who had 118 yards reciving, from 35 yards out for a backbreaking score to push CSU-Pueblo to a 36-7 lead in the third quarter, then found Sandoval from 10 yards out to all but seal the deal at 43-14 early in the fourth.
Dausin hit Trent Thompson for a 27-yard touchdown to open the scoring, then pushed the CSU-Pueblo lead to 14-0 by hitting J.B. Matthews from 19 yards out on the first play of the second quarter. Matthews had a 5-yard scoring run to build a 21-7 halftime advantage.
Dausin’s third touchdown pass, a 9-yard strike to Roger Pfannenschmid, hurt the most, taking advantage of an FLC attack that couldn’t score to take momentum after halftime to build a 29-7 lead.
“We’ve got to make plays. We’ve got to make catches, and like I told the kids, I’ve got to find a way to put them in a better position Monday through Friday to make plays on Saturday,” Rivas said.
Jenkins found Micah Young for a 35-yard score in the third quarter, and he hit Jonathan Price with 3:01 to go from 20 yards out to cap the day’s scoring.
The big loss of the day for FLC was right tackle Antonio Alicea. Alicea was ejected after a scrum in which Jenkins took a late hit, then was popped again after a fumble that was called back. He’ll miss next week’s home game against Colorado Mines.
“When something like that happens, you just pull the other guy off and pick up your own team. ... He was out of line. I don’t care how angry you are or protecting your own player, but you can’t put yourself in position to get ejected from the game,” Rivas said.
The FLC run defense acquitted itself nicely, holding a CSU-Pueblo (4-0, 3-0 RMAC) rushing attack averaging 241.5 yards per game coming in to 58 first-half yards and 140 in the game.
A bit of an improved defensive effort and the sense that the offense is moving the way it should has Bode and the Skyhawks feeling better about the coming weeks, a feeling that they’re building toward something – a feeling they didn’t have in a 50-0 loss to New Mexico Highlands two weeks ago.
“It’s just about getting that clicking and getting that together, but again it comes down to the penalties and all the little things we’re not doing right that’s going to make the difference between winning and losing the ballgame,” Bode said.