HILLSBORO, Ore. -- Dante Olson steals the headlines. Robby Hauck cleans up the defensive backfield. Jesse Sims dons the No. 37. But somewhere between them all stands one of the most consistent Montana Grizzly defenders of 2019.
Redshirt junior Jace Lewis, the former Townsend Bulldog standout, has collected an increased responsibility this fall, a role he's currently thriving in.
Through nine games, Lewis has recorded 80 total tackles, third-best in the program behind Olson and Hauck, with six tackles-for-loss, just a half-tackle behind Olson for the team lead, and four sacks. Only defensive lineman Patrick O'Connell has more with five.
Three of Lewis' sacks came Saturday, as Montana's defense left a likely nightmarish impression on Portland State quarterback Davis Alexander, who was hit by, intercepted by and ultimately frustrated by UM's defense.
“Jace had a good game. It seemed like he was all over the place. He’s a good blitzer and we brought him quite a bit. He was productive.”
“The defensive line played unreal (Saturday), Dante played unreal, the DBs were covering and giving us more time to get in there to cause some hectic on (Portland State quarterback Davis Alexander). It worked out pretty good, we had a good game plan coming in here.”
Lewis' performance was part of another impressive second-half effort by the Grizzlies, which included a key fourth-down stop that saw Lewis trip up PSU running back Malik Walker. Teammates Alex Gubner and Dareon Nash intercepted Alexander in the fourth quarter to help preserve the 38-23 final score.
"The second half has been our thing all year, not letting it get to us, coming out for a new quarter, new half and getting after them," said Lewis. "That's our goal every week, we want to play a clean game, but like the coaches say, we're always going to have mistakes, little ones here or there, it's just how you respond."
"The next three games are big games, championship games," Lewis continued, referencing contests against Idaho, Weber State and Montana State. "We just have to treat them the same and approach every game like it was the last game."
Lewis will remain a key contributor for the Grizzlies' defense down the stretch of the season, one that brings playoff implications each week. With three games this season of double-digit tackles -- 13 at UC Davis, 14 against Idaho State and a career-high 17 at Sacramento State -- Lewis continues to increase his defensive awareness, taking the tutelage of Olson and finding success when opposing teams key on his all-American teammate.
Lewis, along with the rest of the Grizzlies, remain less concerned with who is making the plays, and more concerned with the wins they continue to accumulate.
"No, it's all fun. Whoever is making the play, everyone else is partying on their head. It's a good time," said Lewis.