DALLAS - Pennsylvania State University lost the TicketCity Bowl to the University of Houston on Monday, capping a terrible year for the celebrated American football college program after a former coach was charged with serial sex abuse of boys.
The Nittany Lions, who finished the regular season with a 9-4 record, were snubbed by several more prominent bowls after the scandal erupted.
Penn State faced an aerial bombardment on Monday from Houston quarterback Case Keenum, who threw for 532 yards and three touchdowns in a 30-14 Cougars victory.
Penn State was playing in its first bowl game since longtime head coach Joe Paterno was ousted last November for failing to alert police about what he knew about the sex abuse allegations.
After the game, interim Penn State head coach Tom Bradley said it had been a difficult year.
"These kids have been through hell and back," Bradley said of the football players coping with the scandal, which emerged in early November and overshadowed the rest of the season.
Joe Paterno's son, Jay, an assistant coach for Penn State, choked back emotion after the game in Dallas as he was asked about his 85-year-old father, who has been diagnosed with cancer and is recovering from a fall and broken pelvis.
"I'm looking forward to everybody knowing what I know about him and his character and that he has always done what is right," Jay Paterno said.
Former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky faces 52 charges of sexual abuse of boys over a 15-year period. He denies the allegations.
Joe Paterno and university president Graham Spanier were fired in the fallout from the scandal, and the athletic director and a top finance official were charged with lying to a grand jury about the abuse.
Interim coach Bradley has interviewed to succeed Paterno but Penn State has not yet announced a new head coach.
(Writing by Greg McCune; Editing by Barbara Goldberg)