San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913

The Daily Aztec

Defense Shines in Aztecs’ Season Finale

Before Saturday’s game, the seniors on the San Diego State defensehad two goals.

One was to hold Wyoming to under 300 yards. The other was to playa hard-fought game for its departing defensive coordinator, ClaudeGilbert.

They accomplished the latter.

After putting on a show worthy of an Academy Award, the defensecompleted the Hollywood ending by carrying Gilbert off the field.

“It was a great feeling carrying that man off,” said safety RicoCurtis. “He carried us for so many years.”

Going into the game, the Cowboys were averaging 29.5points-per-game. SDSU held them to seven.

And although the box score indicates that Wyoming generated 156rushing yards, most of those came in the fourth quarter with the gamealready decided.

The Cowboys had just 36 yards on 27 carries through threequarters.

“It was the way I wanted to go out,” Curtis said. “A big win withthe defense dominating. They got a lot of yards but they didn’t getwhat they wanted. That was a win.”

Wyoming didn’t get what they wanted, but the Aztecs’ defensecertainly did.

They defended 11 passes, had three sacks, recovered two fumblesand a 73-yard interception, which was returned for a touchdown.

But most importantly, they got a win for their beloved coachGilbert.

“That was the most important thing,” said cornerback AazaarAbdul-Rahim. “We wanted him to go into retirement the right way, witha win. That was the least we could do.”

Although Abdul-Rahim had only three tackles, he teamed up withCurtis to make possibly the biggest defensive play of the game.

In the second quarter, with SDSU up 9-7, Abdul-Rahim showed someveteran poise by forcing a Cowboys’ fumble inside the 1-yard line.Almost immediately after the ball hit the ground, Curtis picked it upand began to run. A few moments later he decided to go down for atouchback.

“I picked up the ball and thought, ‘I’m eight yards deep (in theend zone), so this is gonna be a 108-yard run,'” Curtis said. “Butthen I counted two blackshirts and four whiteshirts and decidedagainst it.”

Afterwards in the locker room, some of the players reflected ontheir intensity, their memories and the future of Aztecs’ defense.

Said Curtis: “I was extremely pumped (before and during the game).It was my last game at State and maybe ever. I couldn’t wait to gethere today and when I got here, I couldn’t wait to get on the field.”

Said defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila: “It’s been a good fiveyears for me. I’ve had my ups and I’ve had my downs. And Iappreciated every single moment I had. It hasn’t hit me yet, but itwill hit me soon. I’m also happy that (Gilbert) was able to see thatbefore he left.”

Said middle linebacker Joey Mayo: “There’s definitely some playerscoming back,” Mayo said. “I don’t know if they’ll finish with as higha defensive ranking, but they’re gonna surprise a lot of people withtheir heart.”

Case in point: Before heading into the locker room, Curtis andothers stopped to high-five and sign autographs for some fans.

A class act, by a heck of a class.

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San Diego State University’s Independent Student Newspaper Since 1913
Defense Shines in Aztecs’ Season Finale