Ron Brooks knocked out three firsts in quarter one of Saturday’s 51-0 win over ULM.
After three years in purple and gold, the Irving, Texas native managed to register his first sack, interception and touchdown in quick order. He haulted three consecutive Warhawk drives in the first quarter with an interception, a third-down pass break up and then a sack. His five tackles in the game marked a career high.
It was no surprise to Brooks.
Friday night the junior dreamed that he picked off a Louisiana-Monroe pass and housed it for a touchdown. With 7:05 to play in the first quarter, he made it a reality when he hauled in his first career interception and brought it back 32 yards for his first career touchdown.
“It was kind of surreal,” said Brooks. “It happened just like I dreamed about it. This probably has to be my best memory,” Brooks said.
When asked what he was thinking during his dash to the endzone, Brooks gave the answer of a well-schooled backup.
“Don’t get caught,” he said with a chuckle.
On a night filled with firsts, Brooks wasn’t the only Tiger that stepped up and shined.
Sophomore defensive end Lavar Edwards and freshman running back Spencer Ware also got in on the act.
Edwards, who has been the go-to starter at defensive end since Sam Montgomery was lost for the season to injury, scooped up his first career fumble recovery in the third quarter and brought it back 29 yards to paydirt.
“It was awesome,” said Edwards, who also mentioned playing running back on a few occassions at Desire Academy in high school. “Once I picked it up and I saw I had some running room, I was just thinking end zone the whole time.”
For senior linebacker Kelvin Sheppard, seeing Brooks and Edwards put 14 points on the board surprised him very little.
“Those are guys that can make those kinds of plays,” he said. “Tonight so happened to be there night. When the opportunity presented itself, they were ready for it. That came from preparation.”
Late in the third quarter, Ware gave the remaining LSU fans in Tiger Stadium a glimpse into the future when the freshman plunged into the south endzone to push the Tiger advantage to 44-0.
“[Michael] Ford, Alfred Blue and Ware, all three of those guys are talented guys and deserving of snaps,” said LSU coach Les Miles. “When you turn and hand them the ball, they can do something with it.”
Another memorable moment came in the fourth quarter when redshirt freshman safety Craig Loston nabbed his first career interception and returned it 11 yards.
The cushion LSU created in the second half – thanks to names like the aforementioned - allowed Miles to substitute freely.
“We played some guys we felt like we had to get snaps to,” Miles said. “We threw it to a couple of receivers that really we were throwing it to this year for the first time. I kind of enjoyed it.”
Freshman wide receiver James Wright made a 13-yard reception to get on the stat sheet for the first time in his career. Wright hauled in the pass from Jarrett Lee and made a defender miss before being brought down just shy of the end zone.
Junior linebacker Stefoin Francois recorded his first career sack on the Warhawks’ opening drive of the second half, dropping ULM quarterback Kolton Browning for a 10-yard loss.
Senior defensive tackle Lazarius Levingston fell on a loose ball with just over five minutes to play in the second quarter. The fumble recovery was the his first as a Tiger.
The defensive unit even had got in on the fun, blanking an opposing offense for the first time since LSU shutout Tulane a year ago, 42-0.
“We’ve been wanting that all year,” Edwards said. “We feel like we have a pretty good defense, and all that was missing was the shutout.”
With the game out of reach and the shutout being the only question remaining, Sheppard made sure that his defense knew how important it was to keep a zero.
“(Sheppard) rallied us together late in the half when we had put the back ups in,” said Brooks, who referenced the senior linebacker as the Peyton Manning of the LSU defense. “He was letting us know just because you guys are in doesn’t mean that we’re going to let up on those guys. The message really got through to everybody. As you can see, everybody came back with another level of intensity.”
The two defensive touchdowns marked the first time LSU’s defense has scored multiple touchdowns since Oct. 12, 1991, when the Tigers bested Arkansas State, 70-14.
The 51 points scored was the first time LSU topped the 50-point mark since a 58-10 thrashing of Louisiana Tech in 2007.