Norwood Shaken By Hit, Stirred By Replay

Jerious Norwood stared at the video screen as it replayed the biggest hit of Saturday's game, and possibly the hardest contact seen--or heard--anywhere in college football this weekend. As the tape ran forward at full-speed leading up to the moment of truth, everyone in the jumbotron control room tensed as if they were in that #12 jersey headed upfield where a LSU linebacker awaited.

And when Norwood's helmet smashed into Kenneth Hollis' headgear, then instantly back into trailing Tiger safety Jesse Daniels' facemask, the Bulldog halfback could only breathe his one-word evaluation. "Golll-leeee!"

A couple of hours earlier the crowd at Davis Wade Stadium had also uttered single sounds at the wicked collision, either gasps or shouts followed by silence nearly as stunning as the play itself. The quiet came as Norwood and Daniels stayed down; the Tiger for a few moments and the Bulldog a good bit longer. He had to be helped first to the sideline by doctors Bob Collins and Rusty Linton, and later taken from the stadium and to Oktibbeha County Hospital for a check.

The diagnosis of a concussion was not surprising; just as worrisome was a knot high in the shoulder that indicated just how Norwood's head was whipped from one LSU helmet to the other. In fact, it might have been a blessing Daniels was right behind because his headgear kept Norwood's head from stretching very far backwards as he toppled.

Norwood did return to the sideline in uniform in the fourth quarter but with no chance of playing, and dressed in suit and tie after the game he was not all-there. "I still feel kind of dingy," he said, grinning. He was also curious to know what exactly happened. "I tell you, man, I don't even remember what the play was, it happened so fast."

What happened was State, trailing 17-7, was starting a series from their 30-yard line. On second down, after Norwood gained nothing on a rush, quarterback Omarr Conner faded back to pass. Norwood, as designed, left the rushing safety and slipped out for a short catch behind the line of scrimmage and turned upfield.

He got by a couple of Tigers who had angles but that forced him to the sideline where Hollis was waiting just short of the 50-yard line. Norwood saw the way blocked and ‘bowed up' for the anticipated collision. It turned into a chain reaction. "I didn't know it was two of them, I thought it was just one."

The hit came right in front of Coach Sylvester Croom, who admitted he didn't hear the contact in the roar of the crowd cheering a 19-yard gain. Folk further up or down the sideline did, comparing it to colliding semis, and as soon as all three involved hit the turf—along with a piece of Daniels' helmet knocked free—all fell silent. It turned out Daniels wasn't wearing a mouthpiece and bit through his lip.

Norwood thinks he can recall the voice of his coach while prone on the field. "But the first thing I can remember is getting in the back of the ambulance, I guess that got my attention." And he did hear the remaining crowd's response to his return, as by that time State trailed 37-7 and the home folk needed something to cheer.

It was a painful way to end a tough day for this Dog, who had just nine yards on his seven carries.

Ironically, as both team's players left their locker rooms Norwood was introduced, formally, to Hollis, who he didn't know…even though they'd run into each other earlier in the afternoon. After that Norwood couldn't resist joining four reporters in the control room to see the play for himself. And he could even joke as the tape was played, and replayed, and replayed again with full sound.

"It doesn't bother me now because I'm alright!" he quipped, before pointing at the screen. "But it looks scary right there."

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