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The Turning Point: Henderson’s Return

Quadree Henderson blew open a close game with an electric 96-yard kickoff return to give Pitt a three touchdown lead.

Villanova v Pittsburgh Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Pitt fans had been here before. A tighter than expected game against a lesser opponent. It was a 14-0 lead at halftime, but those can get really close, really quick. The first half wasn’t exactly inspired, despite James Conner’s two touchdowns, including one late to give Pitt a little cushion. That’s where Quadree Henderson stepped into the spotlight.

Villanova kicker Steve Weyler lined up and booted the opening kickoff of the second half to the Panther 4-yard line. Henderson took it from there and sped up the middle, following some excellent blocking. I’m not sure he was even touched, as he jetted to the right and down the sideline. Weyler had a pretty nice angle on Henderson, but the speedster turned on the afterburners and Weyler had no prayer. It was 21-0 Pitt and the Wildcats could never get closer than 14 after that.

These are the type of games that Pitt fans have come to dread and it is never fun when they stay close. Henderson had a smart return to set up the second Conner touchdown to end the first half and then let the Panther faithful take a deep exhale with his lightening quick speed to start the second. With this return following the same type of return to open the Military Bowl, Pitt may just have found a player that will make teams be very careful on kicking off from here on out.

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