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Turning Point: Punt(Return)ing Is Winning

Daequan Hardy’s housing of a punt return lit the spark that got the Homecoming blowout started.

NCAA Football: Massachusetts at Penn State Matthew O’Haren-USA TODAY Sports

If you didn’t watch the game at all on Saturday and just checked the score after the fact, you might have thought Penn State’s offense methodically marched their way down field for an opening touchdown and poured it on from there. That wasn’t quite the case of course, as the first two drives ended in a fumble and a punt, as the offense looked like they were on a bye week hangover and badly needed a spark.

The spark indeed came shortly thereafter, just not in the way you might imagine. Daequan Hardy, who had only returned a few punts this season, took Kaden Saunders’ place on PSU’s second punt return of the game, worked off a couple of excellent blocks downfield and raced 55 yards down the sideline all the way to the end zone to get PSU’s first points of the game, and fire up a wet and subdued Homecoming crowd. The Nittany Lion offense would go on to score touchdowns on their next seven drives, while Hardy added a second punt return TD in the second half, leading the 63-0 final score.

Turns out that while punting is winning, so is punt returning.