• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Penn State falls on emotion-filled day

November 12, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
Penn State's final home game of the season Saturday was a combination of pep rally, cleansing and tribute, a way to acknowledge the past and take a step into the future.

The child sex-abuse scandal involving former assistant Jerry Sandusky cost head coach Joe Paterno his job and, no doubt, scarred Penn State's soul.

"We've had better weeks in our lives," Paterno's son Jay, the quarterbacks coach, said after No. 12 Penn State's 17-14 loss to No. 19 Nebraska. "The world's kind of turned upside down, but I think our kids were resilient."

For the first time in 46 years, the Nittany Lions took the field without Joe Paterno.

"Joe Pa" was just one of many forced to walk away from their positions after their mishandling of child sex abuse allegations.

Assistant coach Mike McQueary, who says he saw former Sandusky abusing a boy in the team showers in 2002, was placed on administrative leave.

Affection for Paterno was abundantly visible from players, fans and coaches at their home stadium. So was support for abuse victims, the kind of empathy many felt was missing in the days after news of the scandal broke.

Beaver Stadium was awash in blue - the color associated with child-abuse prevention - and public-service announcements flashed on the scoreboard throughout the game. A fund-raising campaign for abuse-prevention charities at the stadium gates raised more than $22,000.

In one of the most poignant moments in a week filled with turmoil, Nebraska and Penn State players gathered at midfield and knelt for a moment while Cornhuskers running backs coach Ron Brown offered a prayer.

The game began with the Nittany Lions falling behind 17-0 early in the 3rd quarter. Penn State roared back to within three in the 4th, but their spirited comeback fell short.

Just under 108,000 people packed Beaver Stadium, the largest crowd this year.

On Friday night, instead of the traditional pre-game pep rally, students gathered for a candlelight vigil to remember the victims.

Texas authorities say they're now looking into whether Sandusky abused a boy he took to the Alamo Bowl in 1999.

See photos of Penn State students reacting to the firing of Joe Paterno.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


Load Comments