Ryan Lewis, Quadree Henderson earn weekly ACC honors


Wide receiver Quadree Henderson (10) and teammates celebrate a first-quarter touchdown against Penn State. Jeff Ahearn | Senior Staff Photographer

By Steve Rotstein | Sports Editor

Pitt senior cornerback Ryan Lewis and sophomore wide receiver Quadree Henderson earned accolades from the Atlantic Coast Conference for their standout performances in Pitt’s 42-39 win over Penn State on Saturday.

Lewis was selected as the ACC defensive back of the week while Henderson was named ACC specialist of the week, making them Pitt’s first two players to receive weekly honors from the conference in 2016. Both contributed key plays late in the game to help preserve the Panthers’ victory.

Henderson entered Saturday’s game with kickoff return touchdowns in each of Pitt’s last two games dating back to last year’s Military Bowl, and he nearly made it three in a row with a return in the fourth quarter against Penn State. He darted across the field and dashed 84 yards down the sideline before being tackled at the 10-yard line, setting up running back James Conner’s game-winning touchdown.

“My teammates were just excited that I could get the team into [a good] field position,” Henderson said after the game. “I was mad at myself, though [for not scoring].”

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Along with 96 yards on two kick returns, Henderson also racked up 58 yards on four carries and 47 yards on three receptions to finish with 201 total yards and a receiving touchdown. The 5-foot-8, 190-pound all-purpose weapon leads the NCAA after two games with an average of 53.5 yards per kick return.

While Henderson may have been Pitt’s best all-around player, Lewis made the play that saved the game for the Panthers.

With Penn State trailing 42-39, facing second-and-9 from Pitt’s 31-yard line and just over a minute to play, Nittany Lions quarterback Trace McSorley went for the win and heaved a pass toward the end zone. Lewis jumped in front of the receiver and snatched the ball out of the air for the game-clinching interception –– the first pick of his college career.

“I was reading the quarterback the whole time, and I just saw the ball in the air and took it,” Lewis said after the game. “I just had to go make a play.”

In addition to the interception, Lewis tallied a game and career high of nine tackles, giving him 14 on the season to lead the team in his first year as a starter.