Picking a Panther of the Game last week was pretty easy as Darrin Hall had a monster game. This week was significantly tougher.
Hall had another strong effort on the ground with 111 yards and a touchdown, so he was again in the mix. But for me, it really came down to Quadree Henderson and Saleem Brightwell. I ultimately went with Henderson.
Brightwell had a huge game to be sure .His ten tackles led Pitt and he had a key interception to halt a Virginia drive early in the game, setting the Panthers’ offense up with great field position. However, he also had a couple of second-half penalties that hurt the team. First, he had a facemask in the third quarter that set Virginia up at Pitt’s 11-yard line. And in the fourth quarter, a roughing the passer penalty on 3rd down kept a Virginia drive alive and gave the Cavaliers a first down on Pitt’s 10-yard line.
That second one didn’t result in Virginia scoring any points as they ultimately turned the ball over on downs but the first face mask did aid the Cavaliers as they scored a touchdown a few plays later.
Henderson’s biggest play, of course, was the spectacular 75-yard punt return for a touchdown and that was big as it took the lead from two touchdowns to three, putting Pitt up 21-0. Then, Henderson had a big 25-yard run that got Pitt in field goal position near the beginning of the fourth quarter. That took the Panthers from Virginia’s 45-yard line to the 20 and a few plays later, Pitt booted a field goal to again make it a three-score game and put things out of reach. In addition, Henderson also had a pair of catches for 14 yards.
You can make a strong case for either player, to be honest. The penalties on Brightwell swung things to Henderson for me but the defense really played well on Saturday and Brightwell was the leader there.