Henderson, a junior, participated in two plays and scored touchdowns on both of them. Only one of them counted.
Henderson took Western Kentucky’s first punt of the game 66 yards for an apparent touchdown with 11 minutes remaining in the first quarter. However, just before he crossed the goal line, Henderson tried to raise the ball in one hand in celebration.
Instead, he dropped it and failed to regain possession in bounds. The officials on the field ruled the play a touchdown, but an instant replay review rightfully gave Western Kentucky the ball at its 20-yard line.
“I guess my hands are too small to do what I thought I could do,” Henderson said. “I thought I was in, but one of the Western Kentucky defenders said something that made me think, ‘Maybe I wasn’t.”
When the play was overturned, Henderson was “heartbroken,” Coach Mark Richt said. However, it only took him one minute and 32 seconds to make up for it. After the Hilltoppers were stopped on three plays, Henderson was inserted again to field the punt.
This time, he went 67 zig-zagging yards for a touchdown with 9:28 left in the first quarter to give Georgia a 7-0 lead, and he secured the ball all the way across the goal line. He also aggravated an existing hamstring injury along the way.
“When I made that cut back to the left (on the last return), that’s all I was thinking about, just hoping my hamstring would last to let me get in the end zone,” Henderson said. “I saw the punter, and I said, ‘I’ve got to beat him to the end zone.’ I barely beat him.”
Henderson’s hamstring was tender coming into the game and hurt on the first punt return. Richt intended to take Henderson out of the game after the first return because of the injury.
“But he just begged me for another opportunity,” Richt said. “It’s too bad he didn’t hold onto that first one. I would think two punt returns for a touchdown that fast probably wouldhave been a national record.”
Henderson got credit for the 64 yards of the first return in which he held onto the ball, so he’ll almost certainly lead the nation in return average this week with two for 133 yards. Hedidn’t come back into the game after his second return, but the Bulldogs are hopeful he’ll be ready for Saturday’s game against South Carolina.
The injury delayed Henderson’s debut as a wide receiver. He was moved from cornerback beforespring practice and played so well on offense that Georgia’s coaches expect him to be a major contributor on that side of the ball.
True freshman Asher Allen took Henderson’s place returning punts and had two returns for 28 yards.