Internal Injury Ends Ward's Year





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LaShaun Ward has taken his lumps this season, but what transpired after the Cal football team's thrilling victory over UCLA was just downright cruel.

Ward had taken a tough hit to his ribs on a punt return and was X-rayed after the game, but team doctors saw no fractures or bruises. Late Saturday night, though, the pain Ward was feeling in his midsection became unbearable and he went to the hospital.

Doctors discovered that the sophomore cornerback was bleeding internally and blood was collecting in one of his lungs.

"I didn't realize what happened, but he got hit on a punt and probably fractured a rib," Cal head coach Tom Holmoe said. "It's hard to tell, when you have bruised ribs or fractured ribs it's going to hurt a ton. He was OK about going home, but later that evening, almost early in the morning he was not feeling that well and was nauseous.

"His father was in town and they took him to the hospital and that's when they discovered that he had to get some quick medical attention. They had to drain some blood out of his chest cavity. There was the possibility that they would have to, but they ended up not having to do surgery."

Ward is in stable condition and will remain at the hospital for a couple of more days. Holmoe indicated that it is likely Ward will miss the rest of the season.

"He's going to be OK, but as far as being a competitive football player right now, that's the last thing on our minds," Holmoe said. "We just want to make sure that he's healthy and that he's on the road to recovery."

Coming into the season Ward was expected to start at cornerback and return kickoffs even though he had little playing experience. One of the best athletes on the team, Ward had struggled with the mental part of the game and was even ejected for fighting against Washington State.

But the Pasadena, Calif., native seemed to have turned a corner Saturday against UCLA, which makes the loss all that much harder to take for the Bears. In the game, Ward provided good coverage against one of the best receiver corps in the country. He had three tackles, two defended passes and also did an adequate job returning punts.

The loss of Ward will leave Cal vulnerable in nickel and dime situations. The team was bolstered by the return of Jemeel Powell, who has only played in parts of three games because of a hip injury. Powell made two interceptions against UCLA and will likely start against Washington Saturday.

BEARS GETTING THEIR KICKS

After almost a season and a half of place-kicking woes, Bears fans can begin to feel confidence in the kicking game again thanks to the performance of Mark-Christian Jensen.

Jensen nailed a game-prolonging 37-yard kick in the second overtime Saturday, the longest field goal for Cal this year.

"I had been preparing myself the whole game to make that kick, I knew I was going to make it," Jensen said. "It's a big confidence booster, not so much for me but for the coaches and my teammates to know that if the game comes down to a field goal we can win it."

Jensen has been one of the more consistent kickers in the Pac-10 this season. The sophomore is 5-of-8 on field-goal attempts and has hit all 12 of his point-after attempts.

injury update

Holmoe said that H-back Marcus Fields will practice this week, but is doubtful for the Washington game. If Fields, who is coming off a separated shoulder, does not play Saturday it is possible that he will redshirt this year and comeback as a fifth-year senior.

Wide receiver Charon Arnold is still suffering from a stress fracture in his leg and is doubtful for the Washington game.

Senior Reed Diehl has been banged up all season and is still suffering complications from a nerve injury in his hip. Holmoe said he may practice this week and is questionable for the game.

"I think he feels a responsibility and a devotion to the offense to really be out there," Holmoe said. "A lot of guys would not have gone through what he's done to play and I'm quite proud of the way he's battled."

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