For 45 frustrating minutes, the Georgia State defense had been denied the pleasure of creating a turnover. But in those final three minutes Saturday afternoon, the Panthers came away with a pair of vital takeaways, which proved to be just enough to seal a satisfying 30-24 win over Georgia Southern, their biggest rival, in the final regular-season game.

Georgia State held a precarious three-point lead after quarterback Quad Brown pushed his way into the end zone from the 1 for a 27-24 lead.

That’s when Georgia State linebacker Jordan Strachan caused the first turnover, stripping the ball from backup quarterback Josh Tomlin, a fumble that was recovered by Blake Carroll at the 24.

The Georgia Southern defense, which limited Georgia State to only 55 rushing yards, clamped down and forced the Panthers to settle for a 35-yard field goal from Noel Ruiz and held a 30-24 lead.

It also gave Georgia Southern 1:53 to win the game.

For Georgia Southern, which had played an FBS-best seven one-possession games, it was familiar territory. The Eagles picked up a first down, but with time ticking away Tomlin tried to unload deep. The throw sailed far over the head of the targeted receiver and into the arms of Georgia State’s Quavian White, who fielded it like Andruw Jones did a few years ago on the same field for the Atlanta Braves. White, with his third interception of the season and sixth of his career, pranced a little and slid to the turf to essentially end the game.

“I kept thinking there’s got to be something on the ground,” Georgia State coach Shawn Elliott said. “All of a sudden it happened. We were looking for it all game and they came at the right time. It made for an exciting finish.”

Linebacker Trajan Stephens-McQueen, the team’s leading tackler, said, “Everybody wanted to be the one that made a play. We’ve got 11 people on the field who want to see the ball coming their way.”

The win broke Georgia State’s two-game losing streak to the Eagles and gives the Panthers a 4-3 advantage in the all-time series. Georgia State (5-4, 4-4 Sun Belt) notched a winning season for the third time in four seasons under Elliott. Georgia Southern (6-4, 4-3) has games remaining against Florida Atlantic and Appalachian State.

“It means something to all of us,” said Elliott, who heard chatter among the Georgia Southern side that downplayed the rivalry. “I don’t care what they think. It’s about our players, it’s about our football team, it’s about our preparation. They can think whatever they want to think.”

It certainly was meaningful to the Georgia State players, who were able to stand arm-in-arm in the corner on Center Parc Stadium and celebrate as the school’s band played “Georgia On My Mind,” as it does at the conclusion of each game.

Stephens-McQueen wiped his face and said, “It feels great to beat them.”

It didn’t look good until midway in the fourth quarter. The Panthers had two empty possessions, and Brown threw a bad interception with 1:05 left in the third quarter that led to a Georgia Southern touchdown and a 24-13 lead.

But Brown typically responds to a bad play with a good drive, and he answered by a touchdown drive that was completed when Destin Coates scored on a 4-yard run. It was the 14th career touchdown for Coates, who passed Dan Ellington and moved into fourth place on the school’s all-time list. The two-point conversion pass failed, and Georgia State trailed 24-19 with 12:10 left.

Georgia Southern tried to add to its lead, but went nowhere after starting quarterback Shai Werts re-injured his right shoulder and did not return. The Eagles settled for a 48-yard field-goal try, but Alex Raynor’s effort was just short.

That’s when Georgia State drove for the go-ahead score. A couple of key receptions by Terrance Dixon, who had seven catches for 77 yards, moved the ball to the 7, and the Panthers eventually pounded it in. Brown dropped the snap, but recovered and was pushed across the plane for the touchdown. Brown made the score 27-24 when he lobbed a fade pass to well-defended Sam Pinckney in the left corner for the two-point conversion.

“We just keep going,” senior guard Shamarious Gilmore said. “We just put it all together on that drive and kept it going from there.”

It was another productive afternoon for Pinckney, who caught a career-high 10 passes for 126 yards, his fourth 100-yard game of the season. Cornelius McCoy had five catches for 111 yards and one touchdown. Brown completed 28 of 39 passes to seven receivers for a career-high 372 yards.

Georgia Southern’s Logan Wright ran eight times for 143 yards and two touchdowns, including a 63-yarder. Werts ran 11 times for 40 yards and completed 4 of 7 for 67 yards.

Neither team was playing at full strength. Georgia State was without defensive lineman Dontae Wilson and safety Antavious Lane for the second consecutive week. Georgia Southern was missing running back Wesley Kennedy and defensive tackle C.J. Wilson, who were arrested Monday, and linebacker Chris Harris and defensive back Ephraim Kitchen Jr., who were dismissed from the team for violating athletic policies.