After giving up 130 yards in the second quarter alone, the Cardinals defense – with Philon leading the way up front – allowed just 41 total yards in the second half to the Cougars.
"Basically when we came into the second half, we knew that they were going to try and spread us out and we just really wanted to put our foot in the ground and stop the offense," Philon said.
The U of L defense showed why it is regarded as one of the best defensive units in the country, slowing the Houston offense that came into the game averaging 460 yards.
"It says a lot about our defense and that hard work really does pay off," Philon said. "Just to pay attention to the little things and listen to what the coaches tell us in practice and really just going out there and believing in the system."
A native of Lexington, Philon had seven tackles, including one sack against the Cougars. He did go down at one point in the third quarter with a shoulder injury, but came back into the game on the next series and didn't miss a beat.
"My shoulder started messing with me, but it wasn't anything major," he said. "In the end, I go out and play for my teammates and I just wanted to go out there and do the best that I could."
U of L coach Charlie Strong had some fun with Philon after seeing he wasn't injured.
"I told my man he can't lie on the field like that," Strong said. "I walked up and asked him what's wrong. He said it was his shoulder and I said ‘Oh no, nothing's wrong with you.' Then he jumped up and I told him if you're going to lay there I want to see something more than you grabbing your shoulder and running off the field. He did and it's good to see him bounce back."
Philon said he felt like the defense sent a message with the performance.
"I believe we did make a statement tonight and I just feel like that we worked together as one tonight out there on defense," he said.