12:00 PM ET, November 4, 2006
Camp Randall Stadium, MADISON, WI
MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Joe Paterno was his feisty old self, arguing with officials and brushing off a television interview just before halftime.
But the 79-year-old coaching icon had to leave the sideline after hurting his knee in the second half of Penn State's game at No. 17 Wisconsin on Saturday, and his team couldn't stand up to the Badgers in a 13-3 loss.
"It was sad to watch," said Penn State defensive coordinator Tom Bradley, who took over for Paterno. "But he'll probably be back chasing officials next Saturday."
Wisconsin (9-1, 6-1 Big Ten) scored the first touchdown given up by Penn State's defense in more than two games, and kept the Nittany Lions offense under control for most of the afternoon.
"All week, we had a little chip on our shoulder," Badgers safety Joe Stellmacher said. "All we heard about was Penn State's 'D' and how good their linebackers were. We can play a little ball too."
Penn State (6-4, 4-3) squandered the few scoring chances it had -- including a drop of a potential interception that might have been returned for a game-tying touchdown.
Paterno stood with his hands on his knees for several minutes after Penn State freshman tight end Andrew Quarless rolled into him after catching a sideline pass early in the third quarter. Paterno eventually was escorted to the bench.
As trainers wrapped Paterno's leg, Penn State safety Donnie Johnson dropped a potential interception with nothing but open field between him and the end zone.
"He just had to catch it," Bradley said.
Instead, Wisconsin punted, and the ball bounced off Penn State returner Anthony Scirrotto and was recovered by the Badgers at the Penn State 20-yard line. Taylor Mehlhaff kicked a 20-yard field goal to extend Wisconsin's lead to 13-3 with 2:42 remaining in the third quarter.
Bradley had taken over and tried to keep his boss in the loop. But once Paterno was carted back to the locker room near the end of the third quarter, NCAA rules forbid him from wearing a headset.
One thing they certainly didn't talk about: Whether Paterno was in pain.
"If I were to ask him, 'How are you feeling?,' I think he might have punched me," Bradley said.
Paterno flew back to State College, Pa. ahead of the team with a member of the school's medical staff, and is expected to have x-rays on Saturday night and an MRI on Sunday or Monday.
Earlier this year, Paterno had to leave the sideline in a game at Ohio State when he became ill.
"He's a tough old guy," said Paterno's son Jay, the Nittany Lions quarterbacks coach. "He'll be back driving us nuts tomorrow."
Wisconsin quarterback John Stocco also was hurt on Saturday, leaving the game in the fourth quarter with a shoulder injury. Badgers coach Bret Bielema said he wasn't "overly concerned" about the injury.
Stocco led Wisconsin on a nine-play, 68-yard drive in the final five minutes of the first half, throwing a 14-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Paul Hubbard despite tight coverage by Scirrotto. The score gave the Badgers a 10-3 lead with 23 seconds remaining before halftime.
Penn State's defense hadn't given up a touchdown in 10 straight quarters.
"We were in need of a big play," Hubbard said. "The game was going back and forth and I felt like we needed to score to separate ourselves from them."
The Nittany Lions also allowed Wisconsin's P.J. Hill to gain 148 yards rushing on 31 carries. The freshman was injured in the Badgers' victory over Illinois last week, and Bielema caused a stir this week when he said that Hill needed to take some "toughen-up pills."
Bielema said his comments shouldn't have been interpreted as criticism, and Hill said he wasn't offended.
"P.J.'s a very, very focused young man," Bielema said. "I think last week was very tough for him."
Bielema did, however, get Paterno's blood boiling near halftime when the Badgers tried to run out the last 23 seconds of the half by intentionally going offsides on two straight kickoff attempts to take advantage of a new rule that starts the clock when the ball is kicked.
Paterno stormed onto the field to complain to officials, then emphatically waved off a television reporter as he headed to the locker room.
The Nittany Lions had squandered another scoring chance earlier in the second quarter when linebacker Dan Connor sacked Stocco deep in Wisconsin territory, causing a fumble that was recovered by linebacker Sean Lee at the 14-yard line. But quarterback Anthony Morelli's first-down pass was tipped by Badgers defensive end Joe Monty and intercepted by safety Roderick Rogers.
NOTES: With a tackle in the second quarter, Penn State linebacker Paul Posluszny became the all-time leading tackler in Penn State school history, surpassing the mark of 343 set by Greg Buttle from 1973-75. "It doesn't mean much," Posluszny said. "The game and coach Paterno's situation are more important." ... Officials worked the game short-handed after linesman Mike Mahouski was injured on the opening kickoff.
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... Wisconsin quarterback John Stocco hit Paul Hubbard on a 14-yard touchdown pass with 23 seconds left in the first half.
Gameball goes to... P.J. Hill. The Badgers redshirt freshman rushed for 148 yards on 31 carries, helping Wisconsin control the clock for over 37 minutes.
Stat of the game... 2. Joe Paterno was forced to leave the sideline for the second time this season after after one of his players tumbled into his leg early in the third quarter.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||5-14||7-16|
|4th Down Conversions||0-2||1-1|
|FG||0:01||TAYLOR MEHLHAFF 37 YD FG|
Drive info: 10 plays, 60 yards.
|FG||12:17||KEVIN KELLY 39 YD FG|
Drive info: 9 plays, 58 yards.
|TD||0:23||PAUL HUBBARD 14 YD PASS FROM JOHN STOCCO (TAYLOR MEHLHAFF KICK)|
Drive info: 9 plays, 68 yards.
|FG||2:42||TAYLOR MEHLHAFF 20 YD FG|
Drive info: 5 plays, 18 yards.