PSU fan witnesses ‘subdued’ atmosphere

By on November 16, 2011

By: BRUCE MORGAN Record Express Sports Editor, Staff Writer

On average, Scott Yoder gets to about three or four Penn State football games per year.

And given that last Saturday’s game brought two nationally-ranked teams together — with the Nittany Lions hosting Nebraska in a huge Big 10 showdown — you would have figured Beaver Stadium to be a very noisy place under normal circumstances.

But circumstances were anything but normal in Happy Valley last week.

The university was rocked by allegations that former assistant coach Jerry Sandusky had sexually abused eight boys, with the fallout costing icon Joe Paterno his job in his 46th season as the Lions’ head coach.

So with emotions still raw, the atmosphere was much more restrained than usual surrounding Nebraska’s 17-14 win over the Nittany Lions.

"I’ve been to a lot of games, but I would say it was pretty subdued," said Yoder, a graphics teacher at Warwick High School and a former defensive coordinator for the Warriors’ football team. "It just had a different feel to it. The place was loud, but I’ve heard it way louder than it was, put it that way."

Even the tailgating scene wasn’t at the fever pitch that Penn State-goers are accustomed to seeing on Saturdays in State College.

"My cousin is in charge of the east side of campus housing and he has a real nice tailgating spot, like two rows from the stadium," Yoder said. "People were tailgating, but it was definitely not like a fever pitch. To be honest with you, we went to eat breakfast and I didn’t even tailgate before the game. It was just so surreal and I guess I wasn’t in a tailgating mood."

The Lititz Record also contacted PSU freshman redshirt running back Deron Thompson, a Warwick graduate, and redshirt sophomore linebacker Dakota Royer, a Manheim Central product. Due to the Lions’ policy of prohibiting freshman from talking to the media, Thompson was not allowed to comment, and Royer didn’t return a phone call by deadline.

Yoder attended the game with his 9-year-old son A.J. and two buddies, who are both Cornhuskers’ fans. In the days leading up to the game, Nebraska was expressing concern for the welfare of its traveling party and fans who were planning to attend the game.

But as the day unfolded, it appeared that the Penn State faithful actually went out of their way to be gracious hosts to those wearing the red colors of the Cornhuskers.

I’m kinda glad I went. Penn State fans are always good (toward) the visiting team, but it just seemed more outwardly this time," Yoder recalled. "You could tell the Nebraska fans were there and they were happy they won. But it was just like the game was kinda second hand for what was really there."

While there were some on campus who were protesting during the day, Yoder didn’t notice them to be a big distraction.

"It was minimal and … they weren’t even close to the stadium," he noted.

While many in the national media argued that Penn State should not have played the game, there were positive things that came out of the day. According to Yoder, it was announced during the game that $22,000 had been collected to help fight child abuse.

"There’s a lot of ifs. First of all, if you read the grand jury testimony, when something happens like that, it kinda puts life in perspective," Yoder said. "I love football, but being a dad and stuff, you think, ‘Wow, what if that was my kid?’ It’s going to sound weird, but one of the things that was good for the students and the players was that this was somewhere where they could come together and start healing as a community. I think for them, they have this pride in Penn State and to have this happen, this was a couple of hours where they could actually focus on something that helps them heal together." More PSU, page B-6

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