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UL defensive end Kendall Wilkerson (8) sacks Texas Southern quarterback DeAndre Johnson (14) to account for one of many firsts for the Cajuns in their 77-6 win over Texas Southern on Saturday.

After giving up touchdown drives in the first two games, UL’s defense corrected that in Saturday’s win over Texas Southern.

The Tigers’ offense picked up five yards on three plays and punted to end the streak.

One drive earlier, the Cajuns’ offense also got off to a good start, driving 63 yards on five plays in 1:42 for the quick 7-0 lead. The ‘start’ for UL’s offense would last pretty long. The Cajuns scored touchdowns on each of their first eight drives.

“We played the first two weeks of the season and it felt like we didn’t quite play to our potential,” UL coach Billy Napier said. “We wanted to play a much cleaner game. Regardless of who we played, I thought we had the right mindset, especially early.”

The defense wouldn’t equal that effort. Texas Southern’s second drive was a productive one, covering 61 yards on 12 plays in 2:25. The Tigers weren’t able to reach the red zone, though, settling for a 44-yard field goal by Richard Garcia to cut UL’s lead to 14-3 at the time midway through the opening period.

Maiden efforts

In the middle of UL’s blowout team success were a few individual achievements by young defenders.

In Texas Southern’s third drive of the game, true freshman Kendall Wilkerson of Kentwood recorded the first sack of the season – dragging Tigers’ quarterback DeAndre Johnson down by the jersey for a 10-yard loss.

The Tigers punted two plays later.

On the next drive, redshirt sophomore Andre Jones notched his first career sack – a tackle of Johnson for a three-yard loss. One play later, Texas Southern punted. “Significant playing time in the second half of the second quarter, the third quarter,” Napier said of involved freshmen. “The intention was to play a lot of those guys that we need to develop. We wanted those guys to have significant tape tomorrow that we can teach off of. Hopefully, those guys develop some confidence and kind of settle down.”

The first half also produced Peter LeBlanc’s first collegiate touchdown on a 53-yard scoring reception that ended with the former Catholic High of New Iberia athlete diving into the end zone.

The next drive ended with redshirt freshman Chris Smith breaking loose up the middle for a 24-yard touchdown run for his first collegiate touchdown.

Smith had five carries for 50 yards last season, but didn’t cross the goal line.

Hidden yards

In the first half of UL’s 77-6 win over Texas Southern, the Cajuns’ offense had nine possessions ... sort of.

Each of the first eight possessions ended in touchdowns. The ninth possession ended near midfield when the clock ran out on the first half.

In the first half, the Cajuns put up 21 first downs, 279 yards rushing and 192 passing yards for a total of 471.

As impressive as those offensive numbers were, they would have been even loftier if not for some productive special teams play by the Cajuns.

UL’s third drive began at the TSU 42 after a 51-yard kickoff return by Raymond Calais.

“Played good team ball – good special teams, good field position, were able to get off the field on defense and were able to stay on the field on offense,” Napier said.

The next drive started at the Tigers’ 49, thanks to a 19-yard punt return from Eric Garror.

Three drives later, Ja’Marcus Bradley returned a kickoff 46 yards to the Tigers’ 36 to set up Chris Smith’s 24-yard touchdown run.

All told, the Cajuns had six returns for 151 return yards.

SHORT SECOND HALF

Napier didn’t really want to spend much time on it in the postgame press conference, but it was indeed a unique second half.

The two coaches agreed to play 10-minute, instead of the normal 15-minute quarters in the second half to speed up the end of the game.

“Well, I think it’s what we needed to do for their team and our team, truth be known,” Napier said. “But I don’t want to talk about that. I don’t think anybody in here should be talking about that. That was an agreement between he (TSU coach Clarence McKinney) and I and we’ll leave it at that.”

Email Kevin Foote at kfoote@theadvocate.com.