Case should be busy next year, too, when he is in the NFL or medical school—or both. "Things didn't turn out exactly the way I'd planned," Case says, "but they couldn't have turned out much better."
On the surface junior fullback Brian Milne's two-yard touchdown run last Saturday against Illinois completed the most improbable of comebacks for Penn State, which had trailed by 21 after the first quarter and by 10 midway through the fourth. The winning drive, which had begun on their own four-yard line with 6:07 left, gave the Nittany Lions a 35-31 win, keeping them undefeated and assuring coach Joe Paterno of his first trip to the Rose Bowl in his 29-year career. But for Milne, this comeback was nothing.
After his All-America season as a junior at Fort LeBoeuf High School in Waterford, Pa., Milne was found to have Hodgkin's disease. Ordinarily doctors would have cracked open Milne's sternum to remove the grapefruit-sized tumor they had discovered in his chest, but Brian and his parents requested an alternative surgical procedure. "My mom asked the doctor if he could cut horizontally through the muscle and tissue, instead of vertically through my bone," says Brian, who had rushed for 2,430 yards and 31 touchdowns as a junior. "We were asking the doctors to save my life but to limit my recovery time so I could start working out."
Although the less traumatic procedure was used, Milne still missed the football season as a senior while he received chemotherapy. But he returned to competition in track and field in the spring of '91 and won state titles in the discus and shot-put. In his first collegiate meet the following spring. Milne threw the discus 207'5", breaking the Penn State record and qualifying for the NCAA championships and the Olympic trials.
Two days later his body betrayed him once again, and he had to undergo an emergency appendectomy. "That was a scratch in my side compared to the cancer," says Milne. "But I decided to quit football that season and focus on track because I couldn't recover from anything if I was getting beat up in football all the time."
In the spring of '93 Milne won the NCAA discus championship, and that fall he felt healthy enough to strap on his helmet again. After seeing limited action last season, he has been called upon this year to carry the ball in goal line situations, where his powerful frame and muscular legs make him ideally suited to the task. So far he has scored six touchdowns, all from inside the six-yard line, including three against Illinois. So when Penn State had the ball on the Illini two-yard line in the closing moments last week, it didn't take Paterno long to decide who was best qualified to complete his team's unlikely comeback.
Lower the Boom
Many coaches have publicly complained about the quality of officiating this season. But the year's most egregious missed call occurred last Saturday in Reno. Nevada wideout Cornel West wasn't flagged when, after catching a four-yard touchdown pass against Utah State, he ran over to a cannon beyond the end zone and fired it. Now that is excessive celebration.