Matt Araiza making one of his first-half field goals in the Aztecs’ 34-6 season-opening win. Photo credit: @AztecFB, via Twitter

San Diego State opened its 2020 season by overwhelming UNLV in the first half, on the way to a 34-6 victory.

The Aztecs began the second Brady Hoke era – the head coach took over for the departed Rocky Long in January, but first served as head coach during the 2009-10 seasons – by dominating in the first half. They piled up 313 total yards to just 25 for UNLV in the half.

The win, said Hoke in a post-game television interview, is “great for our kids. For everything that they’ve gone through.”

SDSU opened the scoring with a touchdown in the first quarter on a 4-yard pass from Carson Baker to Ethan Dedeaux.

They took charge though in the second quarter. Chance Bell made it 14-0 with a 5-yard run to cap a 9-play, 80-yard drive.

Then SDSU’s Trenton Thompson blocked a punt attempt by UNLV’s Tanner Brown. After Michael Shawcroft recovered, four plays later, Greg Bell – who played prep football at Bonita Vista High in Chula Vista – made it 21-0 with a 3-yard run.

The Aztecs lost a touchdown on review, but kicker Matt Araiza added two field goals – 27 and 22 yards – to close out the scoring in the half at 27-0.

San Diego State slowed considerably in the second half. UNLV shut them out in the third quarter, while scoring on a 13-play drive to make it 27-6.

The Bells (they are not related), though, starred in a late play for the Aztecs’ final touchdown. Greg Bell gained 40 yards to begin the drive, and Chance Bell ended it by running 19 for the score.

Greg Bell, a transfer who did not play college ball last year, finished the game with 111 yards on 19 carries. Quarterback Carson Baker threw for 137 yards and one touchdown. On defense, Caden McDonald finished with 2.5 sacks, while Dwayne Johnson Jr. had 10 tackles.

Due to the pandemic, the Aztecs played without spectators at Carson’s Dignity Health Sports Park, their home this season and next due to the Mission Valley stadium construction.

It is unlikely fans will be able to attend the Aztecs’ three other games in 2020 at the 27,000-seat sports park. The venue is best known in San Diego as the home to the Los Angeles Chargers from 2017-19. 

– Staff and wire reports

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