NCAA

Stanford suffers heartbreaking loss to Ok. State in OT, 41-38

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Stanford suffers heartbreaking loss to Ok. State in OT, 41-38

BOX SCORE

GLENDALE, Ariz. (APCSN) -- Brandon Weeden threw for 399 yards and three touchdowns to Justin Blackmon in their final collegiate game, leading No. 3 Oklahoma State to a 41-38 overtime win against Andrew Luck and No. 4 Stanford in a wildly entertaining Fiesta Bowl on Monday night.The most anticipated postseason game outside of the BCS championship, the Fiesta Bowl was an impressive offensive show, two of the nation's best teams trading big plays and scores.Oklahoma State (12-1) came up with the last one on Quinn Sharp's 22-yard field goal in overtime to win its first BCS bowl game, earning the right to stake claim at being No. 1 in The Associated Press poll should Alabama beat LSU in the BCS title game."Our team rallied. Every time we got down, they just found a way to come back," said Cowboys coach Mike Gundy, who dedicated the victory to the four people who died in the Nov. 17 plane crash that killed Oklahoma State women's basketball coach Kurt Budke and assistant Miranda Serna.The Cowboys, who never led until the final play, were fortunate to get a chance in overtime.After getting the ball back with 2:35 left in the fourth quarter and the score tied, Luck drove the Cardinal within field goal range in the closing seconds. Stanford couldn't finish it off, though. Redshirt freshman Jordan Williamson hooked a 35-yard field goal wide left as time expired, then missed from 43 yards in overtime.Williamson was sobbing in front of his locker after the game and didn't speak with reporters."In the end, we lost, and I'm as much to blame as anyone," Luck said.Luck hit 27 of 31 passes for 347 yards and two touchdowns in his final game before heading to the NFL. Stepfan Taylor ran for 177 yards and a pair of scores, and the Cardinal (11-2) had 590 yards - nearly 200 more than Oklahoma State - but couldn't pull out their second straight BCS bowl victory."Our kids played hard," Stanford coach David Shaw said. "They just didn't finish the game."Usually balanced, Oklahoma State had just 15 yards rushing on 13 carries, but Weeden made up for it, completing 29 of 42 passes and the three scores to Blackmon, who had eight catches for 186 yards.After the game, Blackmon said he will skip his senior season to enter the NFL draft. He is expected to be selected high in the first round.Weeden threw what he thought was the game-winning touchdown pass in overtime, a 25-yarder to Colton Chelf. But the celebration was put on hold after officials put the ball just inside the 1-yard line after a video review.Oklahoma State didn't go for the touchdown, instead setting up the field goal attempt by Sharp, who sent the Cowboys rushing onto the field after his kick went through the uprights."I think coast to coast, people have a lot of respect for Oklahoma State football," Gundy said. "What a great job by our players to battle back all night."The Fiesta Bowl needed a pick-me-up game after the year it had.Last year's game was a dud on pretty much all accounts. Connecticut had trouble filling its allotment of tickets and keeping up with Oklahoma - a 44-10 rout - leading to a big dip in the ratings.Not long after that, the bowl got tangled in controversy, nearly losing its BCS status following financial improprieties that were uncovered and led to the firing of executive director John Junker.This matchup figured to be the ticket to match the golden jackets worn by Fiesta Bowl officials.Oklahoma State has an electrifying offense - second in scoring, third in total yards - run by the 28-year-old Weeden and featuring Blackmon, the two-time Biletnikoff Award winner.The Cowboys also came in with a chip on their shoulder, believing they should have gotten a shot at the BCS title game instead of it being a rematch of the field-goal-kicking Game of the Century earlier this season between Alabama and LSU.Finishing a tantalizingly close .0086 behind the Crimson Tide in the BCS standings, Oklahoma State had plenty to prove, with booster T. Boone Pickens saying the Cowboys should get first-place votes in The Associated Press poll with a Fiesta win and a loss by LSU in the title game.Across the field was Stanford, another one-loss team that could have a legitimate beef with the BCS system.The Cardinal lost to eventual Pac-12 champion Oregon and crushed nearly everyone else with an offense that was top-15 in scoring and yardage. Stanford also has Luck, the two-time Heisman Trophy runner-up and all-but-certain No. 1 overall NFL pick, complemented by a powerful running game that's as good as any anywhere.The Fiesta Bowl had a pretty good lead-in, too: Oregon's wild, 45-38 win over Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl.Stanford was the only team to live up to the billing in the early going.Manhandling Oklahoma State's defense up front, the Cardinal had 225 yards by early in the second quarter and led 14-0 after Luck hit Ty Montgomery on a 53-yard touchdown pass and Jeremy Stewart ran for a 24-yard score.Oklahoma State's offense was stranded in the desert early: Weeden threw an interception on his first pass, the Cowboys had 27 yards while failing to score in the opening quarter for the first time this season and Blackmon was nowhere to be found.That changed in the second - and quickly.Blackmon caught his first pass by splitting the middle of Stanford's defense for a 43-yard touchdown catch, then showed off his power on the next, brushing off a defender like a jacket over his shoulder before racing for a 67-yard touchdown that tied it 14-all.Two big catches, 110 yards and the offensive show was on.Stanford answered with an 80-yard drive in eight plays, capped by Taylor's 4-yard touchdown run. The Cardinal left too much time, though, and the Cowboys raced down the field for Weeden's first career rushing touchdown, an ugly-but-effective 2-yarder that made it 21-all at halftime.Stanford opened the second half with a yard-churning drive for a 6-yard touchdown pass from Luck to Zach Ertz to put the Cardinal up 28-21.Oklahoma State had a great opportunity after recovering Geoff Meinken's fumble at Stanford's 4-yard line, but had to settle for a field goal. After a Stanford field goal, Weeden found Blackmon for a third time, on a 17-yard crossing pass that tied the game at 31.Taylor put Stanford up 38-31 with 4 12 minutes left, ducking behind Stanford's massive offensive line for a 1-yard touchdown. Oklahoma State answered quickly, moving 67 yards in less than two minutes to tie it on Joseph Randle's 4-yard touchdown run.Luck seemingly had the Cardinal in position after moving 63 yards, but Williamson couldn't come through, sending the game to overtime, where the Cowboys celebrated by mobbing each other in front of the OSU student section - and then again on the field after the replay and Sharp's kick.
Coby Fleener, who led Stanford with 10 touchdowns during the regular season, left the game in the 3rd quarter with an ankle injury.

Cal fights USC into fourth quarter, can't complete the upset

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AP

Cal fights USC into fourth quarter, can't complete the upset

BOX SCORE

BERKELEY -- Stephen Carr ran for a fourth-quarter touchdown two plays after Southern California's defense forced one of its six turnovers and the fifth-ranked Trojans won their 13th straight game, 30-20 over California on Saturday.

USC (4-0, 2-0 Pac-12) has dominated the series with its in-state rival by winning 14 straight against the Golden Bears (3-1, 0-1), but this was one of the tightest matchups in years as the game was tied early in the fourth quarter.

Sam Darnold threw for 223 yards and two touchdowns for the Trojans but also had an interception and was under pressure for much of the day.

It was the defense that stepped up for USC, intercepting a pass from Ross Bowers in the first quarter to set up a field goal and then delivering the big play early in the fourth quarter after Chase McGrath gave the Trojans a 16-13 lead with his third field goal of the game.

Josh Fatu knocked the ball out of Bowers' hand and Uchenna Nwosu recovered the fumble at the 3. Carr ran it in two plays later from the 2 to make it 23-13.

Ykili Ross then intercepted Bowers' pass on the next possession, setting up Darnold's 4-yard TD pass to Deontay Burnett that put away the game.

Bowers finished 22 for 50 for 303 yards with one touchdown, four interceptions and two lost fumbles.

THE TAKEAWAY

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: The Trojans struggled for much of the game without starting RB Ronald Jones (ankle) and WR Steven Mitchell (groin) but managed to pull away late in their first road game of the season.

CALIFORNIA: The Bears used an improved defense to start 3-0 under first-year coach Justin Wilcox but this was supposed to be the test of how far they had come. Cal showed plenty by sticking with a national title contender for three quarters. A sequence on the opening drive of the second will haunt the Bears. Patrick Laird dropped a potential TD in the end zone and Matt Anderson then missed a 29-yard field goal that kept the game tied at 13.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

A win against an unranked team should do little to alter USC's poll position.

UP NEXT

SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: Visits No. 18 Washington State on Friday.

CALIFORNIA: Visits No. 24 Oregon on Saturday.

From feeding homeless to doing the splits, Stanford's Phillips a rare find

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From feeding homeless to doing the splits, Stanford's Phillips a rare find

Stanford has a penchant for recruiting the overachieving student-athlete. Even among those standards, Harrison Phillips is a rare find. The senior defensive tackle helps feed the homeless every Friday morning at a local shelter. He often visits the kids in the oncology ward at Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital. He was named to the Pac-12 All Academic First Team and will graduate in December with a double major and a minor. He is a team captain and heir apparent to Solomon Thomas, the 49ers third overall pick in this year’s NFL draft.

“One thing you love about Harrison is, every day he’s going to get something done,” head coach David Shaw told NBC Sports Bay Area. “On the field, off the field, in the community, he’s always got a million things going on. But nothing ever suffers.

"He does everything at a high level.”

At 6-foot-4, 290 pounds, Phillips is a mountain of a man. His skill set is different than that of Thomas, but he can be just as disruptive. He plays over the center. He plays over the guards. His self-proclaimed job is to eat as many blocks as possible to keep the linebackers free.

“He’s such that hard point for us. He’s that guy up front that’s getting knock back, that force in the run game that you gotta have,” defensive coordinator Lance Anderson explained. “You have to have that strong solid point in the middle of your defense, and he provides that.”

Phillips had a game-high 11 tackles, five of them solo, in the Cardinal’s loss to USC. No other defensive lineman on the field had more than three.

“He’s outstanding against the run. He’s a very good pass rusher,” Shaw added. “He’s got a lot of tools that can work inside.”

Phillips main instruments of domination are strength, knowledge of leverage and abnormal flexibility for a man of his size.

“He can do the splits on command,” Thomas said laughing from in front of his locker after a recent 49ers practice. “He loves showing it off. We get on him for it. But he loves doing it.

And, according to Thomas, his former Stanford teammate loves to bench. So it comes as no surprise that Phillips’ upper body strength stands out.

“He’ll be really low in a position that you think he’d get knocked over in,” Thomas explained. “Because of how flexible he is, it’s not a problem for him to get in that position and stay there and move on from there. It definitely shows up on his film.”

No doubt, Phillips says, that ability comes from his wrestling experience. His high school curriculum vitae includes, “Nebraska State Wrestling Champion, Heavy Weight Division, Sophomore, Junior and Senior years.”

Phillips first year on The Farm, he vividly remembers his Stanford coaches testing him. Just a mere 245 pounds at the time, they put him up against Joshua Garnett and Andrus Peat, two offensive linemen now in the NFL and each well over 300 pounds.

“They’d double team me, almost 700 pounds on you, and I would somehow find leverage and be able to sit on some of those double teams,” Phillips said. “I think the violence that wrestling brings, and balance and being comfortable in weird positions, wrestling has a ton of scrambling, as it's called, you just know your body and know what you can do. I have tremendous flexibility, and I use everything to my advantage.”

One thing Phillips is not allowed to do is use his explosiveness away from the football field. At one time, Phillips could do a back flip off the wall, but he no longer attempts it.

“I’m not a big fan of the back hand springs,” Shaw said. “I’d like for him to stay on his feet.”

Phillips doesn’t argue. He lost his entire sophomore year to a knee injury, and doesn’t want to risk another. He has NFL aspirations and put himself in position to graduate in three-and-a-half years should he choose to enter the 2018 draft. But just as he has done at Stanford, he is looking to be more than just a name on a jersey should he play on a professional level.

“I want to build something that is really lasting,” Phillips said of his life goal, “and put my name on something to touch people’s lives and change people’s lives, pay it forward as much as I can.”