August 30, 2018 Atlanta - Georgia State quarterback Dan Ellington (13) makes a handoff to Georgia State running back Destin Coates (17) in the second half of Georgia State season opening game against the Kennesaw State at Georgia State Stadium on Thursday, August 30, 2018. Georgia State won 24-20 over the Kennesaw State. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Five things to know about Georgia State’s loss to Western Michigan

Georgia State lost to visiting Western Michigan on Saturday in its final non-conference game of the season.

The Panthers lost 34-15 and have a 1-3 record headed toward their Sun Belt Conference opener Saturday against Louisiana-Monroe at Georgia State Stadium. 

Here are five things to know from the Panthers’ loss:

1. Ellington accounts for three turnovers in first half

Georgia State quarterback Dan Ellington struggled in the first half to protect the ball, fumbling twice and throwing one interception. On first-and-10 deep in Western Michigan territory, Ellington fumbled, marking the Panthers’ first turnover of the game. 

“A lot of miscommunication up front from the offensive-line standpoint,” Georgia State coach Shawn Elliott said. “That led to a lot of pressures, a lot of sacks, and a lot of fumbles.” 

Ellington fumbled again late in the second corner, setting up Western Michigan for another field goal. Ellington’s interception ended the first half, however the Broncos were convert the interception into a touchdown as time expired. 

2. Georgia State offense continues to struggle on third down 

In the first three games, the Panthers struggled converting on third-down plays –– converting only 6 of 12 against Kennesaw State, 4 of 13 against N.C. State, and 5 of 15 against Memphis. 

In Saturday’s game against Western Michigan, the Panthers were 3-of-9 on third downs. 

3. Panthers struggle to move the ball on the ground

After a turnover on its first drive, Georgia State’s offense struggled to move the ball on the ground. The Panthers rushed for only 39 yards in the first half. 

“We didn’t execute like we should have,” Ellington said. “Up front, running back-wise, we didn’t execute well.”

The Panthers continued to struggle on the ground in the second half, rushing for only 58 yards total on the day. However, the offense was able to move the ball through the air. Ellington passed for 285 yards in 29 attempts.

4. Defense unable to stop Western Michigan offense

Georgia State’s defense failed to stop Western Michigan’s running game. The Panthers allowed the Broncos to gather 294 yards and one touchdown on the ground. 

“I told the team last night, “you have to have the ability to focus,”” Elliott said. “There’s got to be a lot of focus in our sight, not just seeing the field. We have to learn to see from a point of attack.”

The defense was unable to put pressure on Western Michigan quarterback Jon Wassink as he threw for 234 yards and three touchdowns. 

5. Panthers finish 1-3 in non-conference play

Georgia State finished its first four games 1-3. The Panthers were outscored 154-68 in its first four games. 

“It is conference season now,” Elliott said. “They award you at the end for this.” 

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