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Former walk-on Josiah Norwood scores first touchdown for UCLA football

UCLA football redshirt senior wide receiver Josiah Norwood runs down the sideline on his 50-yard touchdown reception in Saturday’s win over Bowling Green. (Kaiya Pomeroy-Tso/Daily Bruin senior staff)

By Francis Moon

Sept. 6, 2022 11:03 a.m.

Early last week, Josiah Norwood earned a scholarship after four years as a Bruin.

On Saturday, the redshirt senior wide receiver followed it up by scoring the first touchdown of his collegiate career.

With under five minutes to go in UCLA football’s game against Bowling Green, Norwood caught an outside pass from redshirt sophomore quarterback Ethan Garbers and turned the corner for a 50-yard touchdown to extend the blue and gold’s lead to 28 points.

“That was a really cool moment for me,” Norwood said. “It was funny too because that morning one of my friends had texted me, Jerry, and he told me, ‘You’re going to score today.’ Super random, it just happened to be that time.”

A dual-threat quarterback coming out of high school, Norwood converted to wide receiver after being recruited by the Bruins as a walk-on. He garnered 32 yards on four catches through his first four years with the team – all in 2021.

But in just the first game of his fifth season with the program, he topped both numbers, coming just short of doubling his career yardage with 63 yards on five catches against the Falcons.

Norwood said he gives much of the credit to both his coaches and his best friend from high school, Jerry, for their guidance and support during his transition to receiver and as he works his way into a bigger role.

“It was really awesome just to see my hard work pay off,” Norwood said. “ I can’t even take credit for that fully because there’s so many people that have been involved in that. That’s always important for me – just going out there knowing that my coaches have my back and have been believing in me this whole time.”

Coach Chip Kelly had high praise for Norwood’s work ethic and said he earned his scholarship after making big plays in situational roles with special teams for the Bruins the past few years, adding that he hopes to see more of the same as the wide receiver gets more involved in the offense.

“To see a fifth-year kid like that, for that to pay off is really just a tribute to him,” Kelly said. “Really happy for him, and hopefully we get more of those from him.”

Home attendance hits all-time low

The Bruins’ blowout wasn’t the only hot topic at the Rose Bowl on Saturday.

UCLA, its opponents and its fans in the stands all faced one common enemy – the heat.

With temperatures reaching 105 degrees in Pasadena and a midday kickoff, cramping and dehydration affected both sides. Though Kelly said postgame the heat was just something both teams had to deal with, he added Monday that it was not a particularly enjoyable condition to be in.

“That’s the hottest football game I’ve coached in my life,” Kelly said. “We can’t control the weather, but I want to thank the ones (fans) that did show up because that was not a fun place to be, to be honest with you.”

Whether the heat played a large factor or not, the 27,143 purchased tickets – and a presumably even lower turnout – broke a near 30-year record for the Bruins’ lowest home attendance. Redshirt senior quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson, who also claimed it was the hottest game he’s ever played in, said the team tried not to let the low turnout affect its play.

“It obviously is a little disappointing because we’re trying to put on the best showcase for as many people as we can, but we try not to worry about it too much,” Thompson-Robinson said. “We know they’re out there watching us, supporting still, so it’s all love at the end of the day, for sure.”

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Francis Moon | Sports senior staff
Moon is currently a Sports senior staff writer. He was previously an assistant Sports editor on the women's basketball, men's soccer, track and field and cross country beats and a contributor on the women's basketball and women's tennis beats, while also contributing for Arts. He is a fourth-year molecular, cell and developmental biology student.
Moon is currently a Sports senior staff writer. He was previously an assistant Sports editor on the women's basketball, men's soccer, track and field and cross country beats and a contributor on the women's basketball and women's tennis beats, while also contributing for Arts. He is a fourth-year molecular, cell and developmental biology student.
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