He collapsed on the sideline and went into convulsions.
Quarterback Rollie Dykstra had just run an option play last Saturday for the University of La Verne, a Division III college east of Los Angeles.
The Leos trailed the University of Redlands, 24-0, with 8:14 left in the second quarter of their homecoming game.
But Dykstra was stopped short on the goal line with a crushing helmet-to-helmet blow from a Redlands defender that left Dykstra feeling dizzy.
He walked to the sideline. Collapsed. Then convulsed.
The same fans that politely applauded the 24-year-old after he shook off the bruising hit fell silent as emergency workers treated Dykstra for 45 minutes. As of Tuesday afternoon, he was in critical condition and in a coma-induced state at Pomona Valley Medical Center’s intensive care unit, recovering from one of the most devastating injuries of this college football season.
After Dykstra collapsed, La Verne and Redlands decided to suspend their game. La Verne has also canceled Saturday’s game against Azusa Pacific.
“Unfortunately, our players and coaching staff,” La Verne Athletics Director Jim Paschal said in a release, “are not yet ready to participate in a competitive event at this time.”
“It was a clean hit,” Redlands assistant coach Bill O’Boyle said. “I don’t think it was any particular hit. It was a combination of a bunch of them.”
La Verne coach Don Morel has spent the days following the event at the hospital and couldn’t been reached for comment.
Dykstra needed to be put in a medically-induced coma for about three days to relieve pressure from bleeding on one side of his brain, according to reports.
Dykstra’s been a journeyman for the past few years, logging minutes with three college teams.
He led San Bernardino Valley, a junior college, to two conference championships, including a dramatic, 21-20 victory against Antelope Valley on Nov. 16, 1997. Dykstra tossed for 200 yards, 181 in the second quarter, and three touchdowns as San Bernardino rallied from 17-0 deficit.
“He had the immediate attention of the (team) once he stepped in,” said Bob Stangel, then an assistant coach for San Bernardino. “He has all the attributes you need to be successful. He had a great arm, quick release and made good decisions with the football.”
Dykstra’s prolific junior college career propelled him into Division I football, at Florida A&M. Coaches liked his natural athletic ability. Dykstra quickly found his niche.
Alabama A&M quarterbacks coach Mario Allen knew Dykstra from Florida A&M, where Allen had served as quarterbacks coach.
“He fit in really well chemistry-wise,” Allen said. “He was just one of the guys and got into the mix.”
Dykstra didn’t affect the team’s chemistry, but he didn’t change much on the playing field either. Dykstra could only watch from the sidelines as JaJuan Seider set the school record for passing yards.
Dykstra also had a difficult time learning the new offense, a common problem for transfers, Allen said.
“Only one guy can play quarterback,” Allen said. “The guy in front of him was one of our best. After a while, he just wanted to go home and play.”
With a year of eligibility left, Dykstra enrolled at La Verne, which is near his Redlands, Calif., home.
The Leos hadn’t lost at home this season but couldn’t bear to continue Saturday’s game after Dykstra collapsed.
“We had to stop play,” O’Boyle, the Redlands assistant, said. “There wasn’t any way we could even think about playing after that.”