Kaiwan Lewis didn't have time to make New Year's resolutions this year.

He was busy getting ready to play one of the biggest football games of his life.

The St. Joseph High School graduate came up with two enormous turnovers in the final five minutes of the Jan. 1 as South Carolina beat Wisconsin 34-24 in the Capital One Bowl in Orlando, Fla.

Much of the attention on the game centered on standout defensive lineman Jedevoen Clowney.

Clowney announced in an on-field interview immediately following the game that he would declare for the NFL draft, but it was a former first-team Press All-Star who led the South Carolina defense.

Lewis, the team's starting middle linebacker, led the Gamecocks with nine tackles in the bowl game.

"I just wanted to go out and play my assignment and it ended up with me making a play or two," Lewis said Monday by telephone. "I didn't try to do too much. I just tried to do my assignment and came up with the plays."

South Carolina won 11 games for a school-record third straight season and were ranked eighth in the AP Top 25 and No. 9 in the BCS Standings.

Lewis recovered a fumble and followed that up with an interception in the game's final minutes against No. 19 Wisconsin.

The Pleasantville native missed one game this season but still finished third on the team with 53 tackles.

The true sophomore was responsible for calling most of South Carolina's defensive plays at middle linebacker.

"It was kind of rocky in the beginning," Lewis said. "But with more experience, it began to get a lot more fun, and I started making a lot more plays.

"I'm getting more comfortable. The game has slowed down a lot for me as the season went on."

Lewis will head into his junior season as a leader of one of the country's top teams and hopes that path leads to eventually playing on Sundays.

"That's one of my main goals," Lewis said of the NFL. "I'm just trying to be the best player I can be, and hopefully I'll make it to the big leagues."

More football

Damon Mitchell (Cedar Creek), the 2012 Press Football Player of the Year, was named Scout Team Player of the Year at Arkansas. Mitchell took a redshirt season this year and will compete for the starting quarterback position next season for the Razorbacks.

Jon Seddon (Absegami) and Rob Municchi (Barnegat) helped lead Muhlenberg to an 8-3 record and its 10th postseason berth in the last 14 seasons.

Seddon moved from linebacker to defensive end this season and finished with 17 tackles, 2 for a loss.

Municchi played left guard and started all 11 games for an offense that averaged more than 34 points and 400 yards per game.

Wrestling

Former Press Wrestler of the Year Phil Bakuckas (Hammonton) had a takedown late in the third period for a 3-1 decision at 184 pounds on Sunday as Rutgers beat Harvard 24-15.

Kutztown's Joe Esposito (St. Augustine Prep) finished eighth in the F&M Duals on Saturday, despite having to medical default out of his final two matches in the tournament. Esposito opened with a bye, won a 3-2 decision and then won by pin before falling into the consolation brackets at 149. He bounced back with an 8-6 decision in an ultimate tiebreaker before having to default.

Nate Ross (Absegami) won one match and lost two on Sunday as Gannon went 2-1 in the Mid-Atlantic Duals at Ashland. Gannon, No 20 in the country in NCAA Division II, beat Belmont Abbey as Ross won a 13-8 decision at 157.

Women's basketball

Albany's Shereesha Richards (Atlantic Christian) had 13 points, six rebounds, one assist and one steal in a 75-66 win against Northeastern on Saturday. Richards had her seventh double-double of the season with 23 points, a career-high 16 rebounds and three steals in a 60-56 loss to Hofstra on Wednesday.

Kristen Sharkey (Southern Regional) had four points, six rebounds, one assist and one steal on Saturday in Buffalo's 62-50 loss to Bowling Green. Sharkey had started all 12 of the team's games and was second on the team with 12.4 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.

Joanna Persiano (Holy Spirit) made a pair of free throws with six seconds left to seal Widener's 67-63 win against Stevenson on Saturday. Persiano, who missed the previous three games with an injury, had 15 points, seven assists and five rebounds.

Emily Duggan (Ocean City) had nine points and nine rebounds as Gettysburg beat Shenandoah 60-58 on Saturday.

Neumann's Sarah Roberts (Middle Township) had eight points, six rebounds and three steals in an 85-62 loss to Albright on Thursday.

Contact John O'ane:

609-272-7210