Inside word was that if Virginia Tech had taken the trouble to block Miami’s Jaelan Phillips last week, the Hokies might’ve been able to beat the ninth-ranked Hurricanes.
Instead, Phillips, the ex-Redlands East Valley tackling dynamo, might not have worked his way into a second straight Atlantic Coast Conference Defensive Player of the Week honor.
He would have definitely been up for it, especially after his efforts in the ‘Canes’ 25-24 win.
Three of Phillips’ eight tackles, including two QB sacks, went for lost yardage. All of which played a part in Miami holding the Hokies to 56 total yards in a fourth quarter surge that lifted the Hurricanes (7-1, 6-1 ACC) to another nail biting victory.
Phillips is a redshirt junior who transferred from UCLA after the 2018 season. A week before his effort against Virginia Tech, he delivered a 10-tackle, one-sack performance in a narrow win over North Carolina State.
The Hurricanes have largely improved their pass rush this season, coming up with six sacks against Virginia Tech (4-4, 4-3).
Phillips told ESPN writer Andrea Adelson, “It’s a lot of positive energy and a lot of belief in the locker room right now. Every week, we’re becoming stronger as a team.
“All facets of our team are improving. We’re feeling more together; we’re feeling more confident. I’m excited about what we have going on.”
Phillips went up against a Hokies’ blocking front that included an Ohio State transfer, right guard Doug Nester, which was considered a strong part of Virginia Tech’s attack.
Up next for Miami is Georgia Tech, a team that hasn’t played the past two weeks. The Yellowjacks, operating behind freshman QB Jeff Sims, average close to 375 yards a game.
Three Georgia Tech losses this season have come against Clemson, Notre Dame and Boston College.
Phillips, who has become a star on the Miami defense, has 25 tackles four tackles for lost yardage and three QB sacks in his team’s wins.
Footnote to Miami: One week after missing 11 players against N.C. State, the Hurricanes had 13 players out against Virginia Tech. The school did not list the reasons those players were unavailable.
GUSTAV AT COLORADO
In Palo Alto, former Aquinas star Joshka Gustav, playing in Colorado’s 35-32 win over Stanford last week, made his only tackle on a fourth quarter play.
Leading by three points at the time, Davis Mills’ pass to running back Austin Jones fell incomplete with Gustav, an outside linebacker, covering on the play.
One week earlier, Gustav came up with a couple plays in the Buffaloes’ 48-42 win over UCLA.
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Note: Morningside (Iowa) College had its game at Doane (Neb.) College canceled last week.
The NAIA national contenders beat Concordia-Nebraska, 56-22, one week earlier behind Niklas Gustav, another Aquinas product.
In that game, Gustav played well enough to win conference Defensive Player of the Week honors after setting a new school record for career QB sacks (23). The Mustangs’ defense limited Concordia to 15 yards rushing.
Morningside (7-0) plays in the Great Plains Athletic Conference.
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Isaiah Holiness, a former Redlands East Valley receiver, caught two passes in San Jose State’s fourth straight win last weekend against Nevada-Las Vegas.
The Spartans’ 34-17 win over the Rebels left San Jose State with its first 4-0 start since 1955.
On the first series of the game, Holiness caught a 2-yard pass from QB Nick Starkel in the opening quarter. His 36-yard reception from Starkel in the third quarter helped set up Matt Mercurio’s 27-yard field goal in the game’s final moments.
Holiness has seven catches for 74 yards this season.
San Jose State plays Fresno State this weekend.
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San Gorgonio High product Tyreque Jones brought down Colorado State’s Dante Wright on late first quarter play drive in Boise State University’s 52-21 win last weekend on the Broncos’ home turf.