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OU football: Late mother in mind, Tre Brown saves Sooners again in Big 12 championship

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Tre Brown

Senior cornerback Tre Brown celebrates after earning an interception during the Big 12 Championship Game against No. 6 Iowa State at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, on Dec. 19.

ARLINGTON — Before the start of No. 10 Oklahoma’s eventual 27-21 win over No. 6 Iowa State on Saturday, Tre Brown found himself at midfield in AT&T Stadium.

The senior cornerback was in a moment of self-thought. However, he wasn’t thinking about the Sooners’ pandemic-plagued season or the Big 12 Championship game that was soon to kick off. Not even Oklahoma’s lingering postseason fate crossed Brown’s mind in that moment.

Instead, Brown was praying to his late mother, Beverly Brewer, who died Oct. 14, 2018.

“I think about her every day (and) all the time,” Brown said. “She helped me through this year.”

Brewer died days before Brown’s second start as a Sooner. Starting with that game — a 52-27 victory at TCU — Brown has played in honor of his mother’s memory. Saturday, Brown’s third and likely final Big 12 Championship game was no different.

During the game’s final drive, the Sooners’ defense was reeling. As the Cyclones inched toward their first lead of the game, Brown started to look up at the heavens for answers. All he wanted was one more shot.

Brown got that shot when linebackers Nik Bonitto and DaShaun White flushed Iowa State’s Brock Purdy out of the pocket and into a desperation pass — a pass which found itself in Brown’s hands over 40 yards later.

His prayer was answered and, after it was, he looked to the skies once more.

“What he’s been through with (his mom) is unbelievable,” Richard Prince, Brown’s dad, told The Daily after the game. “It’s very difficult to lose a mom, (especially) at 21 years old. I can’t relate to that. I think most of us can’t relate to that. Everything that he does is for her at this moment, and maybe even in the future. Everything is about her.

“I think the rest of his career is dedicated to his mother.”

Brown ended the day with two tackles, one pass deflection and a game-clinching interception that he said ranks as his second-favorite play he’s made in a Big 12 Championship. Only his fourth-quarter safety against Texas in 2018 ranks higher, Brown said.

His recent success in the title game led him to post this tweet just minutes after it ended.

Along with his stout defensive performance, Brown returned two kickoffs for a combined 86 yards. Head coach Lincoln Riley said both returns couldn’t have come at a better time.

“They were big-time plays and both of them came after Iowa State had some momentum,” Riley said. “So, those were important plays. … And then obviously he had the pick to end it. It was a great individual play, very reminiscent of over in the Cotton Bowl just a couple of months ago. 

“So, I'm really proud of that kid, all he's had to overcome and he's obviously been a really, really good player for us and I think really took another step this year.”

In the 2019 Big 12 Championship, the Tulsa native prevented a potential 95-yard touchdown pass that would have given Baylor a lead over the Sooners in the game’s closing minutes. That play — which Brown said is just behind his interception from Saturday — is a testament to his never-give-up mentality. 

“I think the bigger the game, the better he performs,” Prince said. “That’s just how he’s been his entire life. He enjoys big moments, and he showed that (against Iowa State). … Words cannot explain how proud and how happy I am of him. 

“I think most fathers and most parents would love to see their kids reach their dream. One of Tre’s dreams has always been to play for OU and to play at this level.”

Overall, the Sooners’ defense held Iowa State to its lowest rushing performance on the season with 113 yards. The Cyclones’ 21 total points were also their lowest over their past five games. 

Along with Brown’s interception, redshirt junior defensive back Tre Norwood and junior safety Pat Fields each hauled in a picks of their own. It was the first time Oklahoma had three interceptions in a game since Nov. 19, 2016, against West Virginia.

Sooner defensive coordinator Alex Grinch — whose defense forced 13 turnovers on the season, their best since 2015 — was ecstatic as he watched Brown come away with the game winner.

“I was probably a little bit more emotional about it than maybe you were,” Grinch said. “But, someone was going to have to make a play to win that game. When all was said and done, somebody was going to be on the right side of it and so someone was going to be on the wrong side of it. ... To see Tre (Brown) do that as a senior, obviously thrilled for him and thrilled for us.”

Editor’s note: This article was edited at 10:45 p.m. Dec. 19 to correct the name of Tre Brown’s father.

Chandler Engelbrecht is a journalism senior and the Daily's assistant sports editor. He currently covers OU football and has previously covered OU men's basketball, volleyball and men's gymnastics.

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