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The tone was set three minutes into Saturday's Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference football game between Black Hills State University and Colorado State-Pueblo.

The other 57 minutes didn’t go much better for the Jackets, as the six-time defending champion ThunderWolves rolled to a 49-14 win Saturday at Lyle hare Stadium in Spearfish.

The Jackets, 5-3 in the RMAC and overall, turned the ball over on their first possession on a Phydell Paris fumble on their own 18-yard line. Three plays later, CSU-Pueblo quarterback Rex Dausin hit Larry Clark on a 7-yard touchdown pass for a quick 7-0 lead.

On Black Hills State’s next possession, Jacket punter Jess Edens couldn’t handle a low snap and fell on the football on their own 21. Two plays later, Dausin hit K’lan Anderson on an 8-yard strike for a 14-0 lead, barely three minutes into the game.

The Yellow Jackets would battle back and only trail 21-14, but Pueblo would score two more second-quarter touchdowns and add two scores for good measure in the third.

“Those first two possessions were everything that could not happen,” BHSU head coach John Reiners said. “You have a ball-control team and a team that can run the football. It was takeaways. We turned the ball over and the punt was like a turnover. They have a short field and our defense has its backs against the wall. It set the tone for them and us. You can’t spot a team as good as Pueblo 14 points and win.”

Black Hills State did, however, come back and strike quickly when Paris scored on a 6-yard run. The four-play drive was highlighted on a spectacular 52-yard TD reception by Shandon Jones from Ryan Hommel. The ball was tipped a couple of times into Jones’ hands and he took it inside the 10-yard line.

But a botched squib kickoff gave the ThunderWolves a short field and they took it into the end zone on a 6-yard TD pass from Dausin to Daniel Wise.

Hommel threw his only TD pass of the game on the next possession when Eriq Swiftwater outfought the CSU-Pueblo defender for the ball in the end zone from 28-yards out to cut the lead to 21-14.

But special teams again let the Jackets down, as what was supposed to be a high floater on the kickoff only went about 10 yards, putting the ball again near mid field.

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Five-plays later, Dausin connected with Michael Wristen from 2 yards. The ThunderWolves made it 35-14 just before halftime on Dausin’s fifth first-half TD pass, another 2-yarder to Zach Boyd.

“We knew we didn’t want to get their returners the ball; they are very dangerous. We were going to squib kick it, we were going to sky kick it,” Reiners said. “We sky kicked it 10 yards and when we squib kicked it, instead of getting it to the ground, we lined it right to them. You do those things and it comes down to all phases have to be on the same page. Kickoff had a job and we practiced it; we didn’t do it. When you give them the ball at the 50 or the 45, it makes all of the difference in the world.”

Colorado State-Pueblo, 5-3 overall, 5-2 in league play, put the game away for good with two third-quarter scores — a 43-yard touchdown pass from Dausin to Wise and a 6-yard run from Austin Micci.

Black Hills State never was able to get a serious drive going the rest of the way, with Zach Meyer replacing Hommel at quarterback midway through the third quarter.

The Jackets finished with just 204 yards of total offense. Hommel led the way offensively with 122 yards passing on 10-of-16 throws. Meyer completed 8-of-15 passes for 44 yards. Jones was the top target, taking three receptions for 58 yards.

Defensively, Travis Groves totaled 13 tackles for the Jackets as Luis Bach had nine tackles and two for a loss. Michael Deichert also tallied a tackle for a loss.

Dausin completed 14-of-19 passes for 169 yards and Fradlet Dort totaled 106 yards on the ground for CSU-P. As a team, the ThunderWolves ran for 275 yards and 456 yards overall.

Despite the slow start, the ThunderWolves are now playing as well as anyone in the conference. The Jackets have lost two straight after their big 5-1 start. It showed on Saturday.

“We told them before that they (CSU-Pueblo) were 4-3 but don’t let that fool you,” Reiners said. “We went blow-for-blow after the 14 points for a while, but it was too much of a hole to come out of.”

Black Hills State takes a break from RMAC play on Saturday when it hosts Dickinson State in a 4 p.m. kickoff. This will be the first meeting between the schools since 2010.

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Sports Editor

Sports reporter for the Rapid City Journal.