SAN DIEGO — San Diego State began its coronavirus-delayed football season with a win Saturday night against UNLV at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, its home for this season and next as SDCCU Stadium is demolished and Aztec Stadium is built.
Greg Bell ran for 111 yards and a touchdown in his debut with the Aztecs in its 34-6 victory.
Bell, a transfer from Nebraska who is an alumnus of Bonita Vista High School in Chula Vista, ran 3 yards for a touchdown seven minutes, 51 seconds before halftime to increase San Diego State's lead to 21-0.
Matt Araiza kicked 27- and 22-yard field goals in the final 56 seconds of the first half to give the Aztecs a 24-0 halftime lead.
Carson Baker completed 12 of 25 passes for 137 yards, including a 4- yard touchdown to Ethan Dedeaux on San Diego State's second possession.
Chance Bell ran 5 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter and 19 for another score in the fourth for the Aztecs. The Bells are not related.
UNLV's only points came on Max Gilliam's 4-yard touchdown pass to Steve Jenkins on its first possession of the second half. Daniel Gutierrez missed the conversion kick.
San Diego State outgained the Rebels, 424-186, and led 21-11 in first downs and 31:14-28:46 in time of possession.
Fans were not allowed to attend Saturday's Mountain West Conference game because of state health orders related to the coronavirus pandemic. It is unlikely they will be able to attend the Aztecs' three other games in 2020 at the 27,000-seat stadium, best known in the San Diego area as the home to the Los Angeles Chargers from 2017-19.
San Diego State will be playing at Dignity Health Sports Park this season and in 2021.
The Aztecs initially planned to make 2020 their final season at SDCCU Stadium, where they had played since 1967, but being able to expedite its demolition and construction of Aztec Stadium and the stadium's condition when the university took ownership of it from the city prompted a change of plans, according to athletic director John David Wicker.
"The building was not in very good condition when we took it over," Wicker said at a Sept. 15 news conference announcing the decision. "The amount of effort and dollars to get it up to speed to have people able to come in was somewhat challenging."
The university considered a site in San Diego to play its games until the planned opening of Aztec Stadium in 2022, "but when you think about a Division 1 football experience and all of the different things that go along with that there wasn't a venue in town that was going to be consistently available for us to play in," Wicker said.
"We just didn't think there were any venues in San Diego that could satisfy what we wanted to present for our student-athletes and also our fans," Wicker said.
"As you think about some of the things around the game, our television partners and having the ability to come in and set up and do the television experience we want to put out led us to where we are today."
The game marked the start of Brady Hoke's second stint as San Diego State's coach. He succeeded Rocky Long, who retired on Jan. 8, then on Jan. 27 was hired as New Mexico's defensive coordinator on his 70th birthday.
Hoke coached the Aztecs to a 13-12 record in 2009 and 2010, including a 35-14 victory over Navy in the 2010 Poinsettia Bowl, San Diego State's first bowl game since 1998.
Hoke then coached Michigan from 2011-14, getting fired in 2014 after the Wolverines were 7-6 and 5-7 in his final two seasons. They were 11-2 and 8- 5 in his first two.
Hoke returned to San Diego State in 2019 as the defensive line coach.
The game also marked Marcus Arroyo's debut as UNLV's coach. Arroyo replaced Tony Sanchez, who was fired after posting a 20-40 record over six seasons, including 4-8 records each of his final two seasons.
Arroyo was Oregon's assistant head coach and offensive coordinator in the 2018 and 2019 seasons.