Shaun Lewis was named Big 12 Defensive Player of the Week on Monday.
And his numbers from OSU’s 33-29 win over Kansas State were impressive: a team-high eight tackles, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a late interception.
And yet, none of that hints at arguably Lewis’ most significant play in the game.
The setting: K-State, with one last possession and out of timeouts, had a first down from the OSU 45 after quarterback Daniel Sams had just run for a 19-yard gain near the 1-minute mark. Sams took off again, with room in front of him, but was chased down from behind by Lewis, who made a diving tackle on a 1-yard gain that kept the speedy Sams inbounds and the clock running.
Daytawion Lowe picked off Sams two plays later, sealing the win, but Lewis’ play on Sams forced K-State to adjust its approach.
“The biggest play may have been when the quarterback was scrambling… he’s going to run for 20 yards and step out of bounds,” said Cowboys coach Mike Gundy, “and Shaun Lewis tackles him, grabs his ankles, which forces him to line back up. I watched the clock, it took them 18 seconds to get lined back up.
“That may have been as big a play as any on the last drive.”
Said Lewis: “I just went to grab anything I could to bring him down and I knew they didn’t have any timeouts left, so it was a big momentum shift for us.”
A big moment for Lewis.
The senior linebacker never came off the field on defense Saturday, staying on for all 66 of K-State’s offensive snaps as a designated “spy” on Sams, who is most dangerous running on designed rushes or freelance scrambles.
“I think his tank was probably empty,” said OSU defensive coordinator Glenn Spencer. “He didn’t come off the field one time. All our sub packages, he did not come off the field.
“And I think his motivation wasn’t for Shaun Lewis to make that play. His motivation was, ‘I’ve got to do it for us.’ Where he found it, I don’t know.”