Sports

Stanford travels into Cougars den for Pac-12 football

 
Harrison Phillips leads Stanford in tackles, sacks and fumble recoveries. Photo by John Todd/isiphotos.com.

A two-time national high school wrestling champion, Stanford defensive tackle Harrison Phillips has a few extra moves he can use to counter double teams or an offensive linemen's propensity to use their hands a little too liberally.

Cardinal football coach David Shaw loves that about him.

"There's a grit to wrestling that is inescapable. You're always giving effort," Shaw said. "There's no relaxing in wrestling, physically or mentally."

Phillips carries that mentality with him onto the gridiron. It's a reason he leads the team in tackles (61), tackles for loss (7 1/2) and sacks (4). He's also forced two fumbles and recovered two fumbles. He just keeps getting after it.

Phillips will play a key role in Saturday's 12:30 p.m. Pac-12 Conference game at Washington State, to be televised by FOX.

Stanford (6-2, 5-1) can go a long way to deciding the North Division title with a victory over the Cougars (7-2, 4-2), who have lost two straight.

"They're pass heavy and we have to do our job," said Phillips, the reigning conference Defensive Player of the Year.

Phillips was also the Chuck Bednarik Award Player of the Week and Lott IMPACT Player of the Week, while sophomore placekicker Jet Toner was recognized as a Lou Groza Award Star of the Week and Lou Groza Award semifinalist.

Phillips was also named a semifinalist for the Chuck Bednarik Award and Wuerffel Trophy, and junior running back Bryce Love was selected as a semifinalist for the Maxwell Award.

Phillips finished with a game-high 10 tackles, 2 1/2 tackles for loss and the game-winning forced fumble during the 15-14 victory at Oregon State.

The Beavers were running out the clock with under three minutes to go, but Phillips forced a fumble and recovered it at the Oregon State 40-yard line with 2:30 remaining. Stanford scored the game-winning touchdown with 20 seconds remaining.

"I didn't really know during the play. It was pretty confusing," Phillips said. "There were a lot of bodies around and I was trying to hit a lot of people. Looking back at the tape, I ended up knocking the ball loose and (Peter Kalambayi) tackled him."

Luke Falk will start for Washington State. His status was in doubt when he was replaced by Tyler Hilinski during the loss to Arizona last week.

Falk is the NCAA's active career leader in passing yards with 13,469 and needs 132 to set the Pac-12 career mark.

"He's unbelievable," Phillips said. "He's able to make throws no one else can make. He has great pocket awareness. He's a true challenge."

Falk has thrown 112 touchdown passes and averages 336.7 yards a game.

"He's one of the best to ever play in the conference," Shaw said. "You can't rattle him."

NOTES: Running back Bryce Love took part in practice Wednesday and will likely be a game-time decision. "He feels better than he did a week ago," Shaw said. "If he's ready to go, he'll go." ... CB Alijah Holder will miss the rest of the season with an injury. "That's a huge hit," Phillips said. "He's playing at a high level, a first-round caliber defensive back." ... Junior inside linebacker Mustafa Branch returned to action on special teams against Oregon State and will continue to receive more playing time. Shaw is hopeful senior cornerback Terrence Alexander will return before the end of the season.

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