The orange-and-white leis around Dru Brown’s neck represented the convergence of two chapters of his football career.
Brown, a redshirt senior quarterback on the Oklahoma State football team, had once imagined himself in a senior day ceremony at Hawaii, where he played during his sophomore and junior seasons. Instead, he was immersed in the Bedlam atmosphere at Boone Pickens Stadium as he walked toward his family during OSU’s Senior Night celebration Saturday.
Since leaving Hawaii, Brown has embraced OSU’s people and traditions, including the Bedlam rivalry, but his only start against Oklahoma fell short of his ideal scenario. The Sooners rolled past the Cowboys 34-16 to win their fifth straight Bedlam game. Although Brown couldn’t lead No. 21 OSU to an upset victory, he enjoyed the opportunity to be in the eye of the rivalry.
“It was electric,” Brown said. “Everybody was telling me that it would be a high-energy game, and it definitely lived up to that.”
The loss marked the end of Brown's time playing in Boone Pickens Stadium. He hadn’t planned to wear leis during his senior walk, but Devrie Tonga, the wife of OSU player development specialist Beni Tonga, made them so he could keep a piece of Hawaii with him on the night of his last game in Stillwater.
“I spent two years in Hawaii, and it’s kind of molded me into who I am a lot as a person and as a player,” Brown said. “…It was kind of cool seeing it come full circle.”
After his recognition in the senior celebration, Brown was in the spotlight again as he attempted to handle No. 7 OU’s defense. It was only his second start of the season in place of redshirt freshman Spencer Sanders, who is recovering from thumb surgery.
Brown went 22-for-32 for 207 passing yards but threw for no touchdowns. Although some incomplete passes hindered OSU (8-4 overall, 5-4 Big 12) in the tough loss, coach Mike Gundy complimented Brown's approach.
“I thought that his preparation was good,” Gundy said. “I thought that his competitive nature was good, and he made some throws.”
Brown also had 17 rushing yards on four carries, including one third-quarter play that resulted in an unusual highlight. He ran for 11 yards and suddenly launched himself over safety Pat Fields. Brown said in the past, when he had attempted to hurdle opponents, they had flipped him, but this time worked better for him.
“I jumped, and I was hoping and praying he didn’t clip my feet,” Brown said. “And he didn’t, so that was good.”
Although Brown didn’t let a defender flip him, he couldn’t always maintain control of the ball against the Sooners (11-1, 8-1). In the second quarter, he sent a pass into OU cornerback Parnell Motley’s hands, but the play was overturned because referees ruled that Motley had stepped out of bounds when he caught the ball.
“(Brown) made a poor decision then, and he knew it,” Gundy said. “Got lucky with the call.”
In the fourth quarter, Motley successfully picked off Brown, sealing the Cowboys’ fate with a little more than three minutes left.
“Obviously, you don’t want to come out on this end of it, but being able to play in this was a privilege, for sure,” Brown said.
Brown played in his final last regular-season game, but his college football career will last a little longer. He and the Cowboys will compete in a to-be-announced bowl game, and as they try to recover from the Bedlam loss, Brown isn’t worried. He has faith in the resilience of the teammates who have welcomed him with open arms since he transferred from Hawaii.
“As far as us bouncing back from this, I think, whether it’s life, football, whatever, I think everybody in that locker room has done it before,” Brown said. “And they’ll do it again.”