August 30, 2018 Atlanta - Georgia State head coach Shawn Elliott instructs Georgia State wide receiver Penny Hart (18) in the first 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
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC
Photo: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

5 things to know about Georgia State’s loss to Coastal Carolina 

Georgia State fell short in its third consecutive Sun Belt contest Saturday, losing 37-34 to Coastal Carolina. 

Here are five things to know about the game: 

1. Running-game woes in first half fixed but not enough

Although their handoffs appeared cleaner, the Panthers struggled to move the ball on the ground in the first half. Georgia State had just 49 rushing yards in 16 attempts compared with Coastal Carolina’s 147 yards. 

In the second half, the Panthers found momentum on the ground, gathering 241 yards in 18 attempts. Georgia State finished the game with 290 rushing yards. 

“They were giving us really good blocks to run the ball in,” quarterback Dan Ellington said. “Offensive line did a really good job of blocking it, and the running backs did a really good job reading the right holes.”

However, the Chanticleers’ first-half lead and continued momentum pushed Coastal Carolina over the Panthers. Coastal Carolina secured its win with a 23-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter. 

2. Panthers start three redshirt freshmen on the offensive line

With starting center Jamal Paxton injured (ankle), the Panthers started redshirt freshmen Malik Sumter at center. The 6-foot-1, 295-pound Sumter started alongside fellow redshirt freshmen Pat Bartlett (right guard) and Jalen Jackson (right tackle). 

“For the most part, I think they handled themselves well,” coach Shawn Elliott said. “To go center, right guard, right tackle for freshmen in a college football game, I’ve been coaching for a lot of years and I don’t know if I’ve ever had three of my five be freshmen.”

3. Georgia State improves on third-down conversions

The Panthers struggled on third-down conversions in its previous two Sun Belt games, going 3-of-13 and 5-of-14. Against Coastal Carolina, Georgia State was 8-of-11 on third-down conversions. 

4. Tra Barnett makes Georgia State history

Panthers running back Tra Barnett’s 75-yard touchdown run is the third-longest in Georgia State history. 

Barnett ran for 161 yards and two touchdowns against Coastal Carolina, leading the team in rushing. His 161 yards is a career high for the junior and the second most rushing yards in a single game in school history. 

5. Panthers’ defense allows over 200 rushing yards for third consecutive conference game

Georgia State’s defense allowed 251 rushing yards. The Panthers’ defense has allowed an average 246 rushing yards in Sun Belt contests this season. 

“We were assignment sound for the most part, but when we got there, we just weren’t finishing plays,” defensive end Terry Thomas said.

Georgia State returns home Nov. 3 to host Texas State. 

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