Sexton, the 6-foot-1, 217-pound linebacker from Houston, was recognized after recording a game-high 13 tackles, including one behind the line of scrimmage, and intercepting a Chase Daniel pass that he returned 39 yards to set up the Cowboys’ game-winning touchdown.
“You don’t get these type of awards unless you’re winning. So this is just a great reflection of the team because we’re winning and finally getting recognized,” Sexton said Monday afternoon.
Lemon, as Sexton said, was also outstanding as the Cowboy defense was outstanding against the Tigers, holding them 19 points below their season average and breaking Missouri’s 10-game home winning streak. The 6-1, 249-pound middle linebacker had 12 tackles, including two for losses, broke up a Daniel pass (the one that Sexton was referring to that could have been an interception) and blocked a Missouri field goal attempt.
“Andre had a great game but it wasn’t just him, it was the entire defense,” Cowboy defensive coordinator Tim Beckman said. “I was proud of how hard he played and I guess he got a sticker or whatever from (Lou) Holtz, and that’s good for him. I was proud of the way he played.”
Sexton said it’s finally good for the defense to be getting some praise after hearing its share of criticism the last few years.
“It’s a great feeling because when everybody doubts you during the week and no one is giving you a chance … but we believe in each other,” Sexton said. “It was the best game plan we’ve had all year. Coach Beckman asked us to do some things that we hadn’t done this year, and everybody communicated on the field and we were able to get it done.
“Coach Beckman kept saying, ‘This is the best game plan we’ve put together all year, now it’s up to you guys to just go out there and execute.’ It was a little difficult early in the week because some of the things we were doing differently, a lot of people had to communicate and being in such a hostile environment, you really had to make sure that everybody got the calls.
“It’s just great when everybody goes out there and is having fun. We were the first defense to give them have a three-and-out, especially after everyone is not giving us credit on defense. To be able to do something like that against them makes you feel good.
“It’s just great to be in this position, get a win and finally start to get recognized as a defense.”
Sexton’s interception in the fourth quarter came on a poorly thrown pass by Daniel. Cowboy linebacker Donald Booker’s pressure made the Missouri quarterback make a poor decision to throw the ball down the field where Sexton made the play before returning it 39 yards into Tiger territory. A few plays later, OSU quarterback Zac Robinson threw a 31-yard touchdown pass to Damian Davis to put the Cowboys up 28-17.
“I really didn’t believe it was coming to me,” Sexton said of the Daniel pass that he intercepted. “I was like, ‘Man, this can’t be coming to me. He really overthrew it.’ As it was getting closer, I just said to make sure you catch it … make sure you catch it first, and then they started blocked for me.
"At the end, my roommate Quinton (Moore) tried to get on Chase (Daniel) and spring me for a touchdown but I didn’t have enough juice to get there. My battery just kind of gave out,” he said with a laugh.
Through six games, Sexton leads the Cowboys with 49 tackles, four pass breakups and a team-best three quarterback hurries. He has also forced two fumbles and recovered one.
Sexton becomes the first Cowboy defensive player to be honored by the Big 12 since Nathan Peterson earned the award last November for his performance against Baylor.