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“Dad, I wish you were here,” he said, walking away from the cameras before the tears began to flow.

When the team arrived at the stadium, the normally low-key son pumped his fist and shouted, “Let’s go!” as he followed the starting quarterback off the bus, just as his father always did. The younger Paterno high-fived passers-by on the way into the stadium, and several staffers gave him an encouraging embrace before he entered the locker room.

After the game, he shared a few details of a letter he’d dropped off at his parents’ house earlier in the day. In it, he told his larger-than-life father all the things he’d never found the words to say before.

“I said, `You and I, in my life, haven’t always seen eye to eye. But generally speaking, it’s (because) I had to grow up, to catch up to make eye contact with you,’” Jay Paterno recalled. “There were a lot of lessons that I learned from him.”

At Joe Paterno’s house nearby, a small clutch of TV cameras and reporters stood outside. Two people walked to the door, rang the bell and left when no one answered. On the lawn was a pair of homemade signs facing the house. One said, “We Love You Joe, Thank You” and the other, “Thanks Joe.”

A small American flag was planted nearby.

“There’s not going to be closure anytime soon,” said Brandon Hewitt, a senior from York, Pa. “I feel horrible what happened to the kids. I feel bad for what happened about Joe. But today was about football, and it was heartwarming to see the university rally around a terrible time.”


Associated Press reporters Michael Rubinkam and Genaro C. Armas in State College contributed to this report.