Paterno leaves field after taking hit

79-year-old coach is forced to leave the field in the third quarter with a serious knee injury after one of his players slams into him

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John Maniaci, Associated Press
Joe Paterno is hit as the Badgers' DeAndre Levy (11) knocks Penn State's Andrew Quarless out of bounds in the second half yesterday in Madison, Wis.
Click photo for larger image.

MADISON, Wis. -- Penn State coach Joe Paterno sustained what appeared to be a serious knee injury early in the third quarter of the Lions' 13-3 loss to Wisconsin at Camp Randall Stadium.

On the fourth play of the third quarter, Penn State tight end Andrew Quarless caught a pass near the sideline and was knocked out of bounds by Wisconsin linebacker DeAndre Levy. Quarless plowed into Paterno's left knee and the 79-year-old coach doubled over in pain after being struck.

Paterno was helped to the bench and had his leg immobilized by Penn State doctors and trainers. He was later taken off the field on a cart and had to watch the remainder of the game from the locker room.

Penn State sports information director Jeff Nelson said after the game that Paterno left Madison with Penn State team physician Dr. Wayne Sebastianelli, athletic director Tim Curley and other Penn State officials on a university plane immediately after the game. Once back in State College, Paterno was to have x-rays taken at the hospital. An MRI was expected to be done today.

Penn State coaches, including Joe's son Jay, did not seem worried about their boss. They were told he was OK and expect him to be back on the job as soon as possible.

"My brother Scott was here and he talked to him," Jay Paterno said. "[Joe] shooed him away, of course. He told him to get lost. He told him he was fine.

Morry Gash, Associated Press
Joe Paterno is taken off the field on a cart in the second half yesterday in Madison, Wis. Paterno left with a knee injury after getting hit along the sidelines.
Click photo for larger image.

"Everyone keeps saying he'll be fine. Obviously, I'm worried about it. But I know he's tough. I'm sure he'll be around and he'll be driving us nuts this week."

It was the second time this season that Paterno had to watch his team from the locker room because of an ailment. Against Ohio State earlier this year, Paterno had to leave the field twice because of flu symptoms. Other than missing a game in 1977 when his son David was in the hospital, Paterno had never missed a play in a game he attended until this season.

This wasn't the first time he had been hit by Quarless this season. A few days after the Ohio State game, Quarless bowled over Paterno on the practice field. He got up from that hit, dusted himself off and coached the next game against Northwestern.

"I've seen him get hit a couple of times," Penn State defensive coordinator Tom Bradley said. "He's a wiry old rascal. He's not going anywhere. He's pretty tough."

Bradley took over as head coach for the rest of the game, but the game-day operation did not change much. Paterno long ago handed over the play-calling duties to Bradley and offensive coordinator Galen Hall.

Bradley tried to keep Joe Paterno abreast of what was going on when Penn State was on offense because Hall and Jay Paterno call plays from the press box. The communication continued for a time after Paterno was carted off the field via headphones from the locker room. But Penn State was informed that it was illegal, and the headsets had to be returned to the field.

"I've been around coach a long time," Bradley said. "The one he didn't want to hear was 'Are you OK?' He wanted to hear about the team, how we were going to communicate. That's all he wanted to talk about. If I would have asked him how he was feeling he would have punched me.

"I didn't see him carted off. I just saw him on the bench. It's sad to watch. I did not know he got carted off until they told me. I know him. He would not want me to worry for one second about him. He'll probably be out there chasing after officials next week."



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