Meet the Beetle
Pack’s Sandoval finds ways to bug opponents
Beatlemania swept over AT&T Stadium on Saturday.
Make that Beetlemania, as in Josh Sandoval, who goes by the insect nickname.
Sandoval, a senior receiver and return specialist for the fifth-ranked Colorado State University-Pueblo football team, scored a game-changing touchdown in the Pack’s 45-24 win over Angelo State.
“My mom (Angela) gave me that nickname when I was little and I don’t even know why,” he said. “It’s just what they’ve called me for as long as I can remember.”
They call him playmaker now.
The ThunderWolves were in complete command of the game until halftime. The Rams then scored two quick touchdowns, making it 21-17 and clearly shifting momentum away from the Pack.
The Rams punted the ball away and he hauled in the kick at the Pack 45.
He ran 55 yards — untouched — for a score.
“During practice the week before the game, the coaches emphasized to me to just plant my foot in the ground and get upfield,” he said. “Usually, I have to make at least one guy miss, usually the punter, but this time it was wide open and the blocks just fell the right way.”
It was the third punt return for a score in Sandoval’s four years with the team. And his easiest, by far.
Sandoval this week was named Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference special teams player of the week.
Ironically, Sandoval didn’t catch a pass in the game, breaking a streak of 15 consecutive games (dating to 2011) with at least one grab.
RUSH TO JUDGMENT: The Pack rushed for 263 yards against the Rams. But 108 of those yards came on two runs. Cameron McDondle had 160 yards on 13 carries, but picked up 63 on a single carry.
And Chris Ashe rushed for 84 yards, gaining 55 on one carry.
NET GAINS: For the second consecutive week, CSU-Pueblo was on the plus side of the ledge in turnovers. The Pack picked off one pass and recovered a fumble for a touchdown.
On that play, cornerback C.J. Roberts stripped the Rams receiver of the ball and took it back 40 yards for a touchdown.
That’s now three scores on defense in two games for CSU-Pueblo.
THIRD TIME NO CHARM: Because the T-Wolves scored 45 points, it would be easy to overlook a 1-for-11 performance on third downs. Even while the euphoria of the win was still fresh, head coach John Wristen said that is an area of concern for this team.
“We have to be better on third down, no question,” Wristen said Saturday.
NEXT UP: The ThunderWolves open RMAC play on Saturday at home against Western New Mexico. The Mustangs typically play tough against the Pack. They lost their season opener at San Diego, and were off last weekend.
All 10 teams in the RMAC are in action. Adams State plays host to rival Western State in the annual Colorado Classic at 6 p.m. Saturday.
The biggest game outside Pueblo will be in Golden, where Mines plays host to New Mexico Highlands, both considered RMAC contenders this season.