Last Saturday, many local football fans tuned into the Ohio State versus Michigan State football game for various reasons. Some were wearing the scarlet and grey colors of the Ohio State Buckeyes and rooting them on, as they faced their Big Ten foe. Others may have just been interested in the great matchup the two teams brought, or the game’s potential affects on Big Ten Championship Game, and the NCAA Football Playoff rankings. Little did they know Scioto County native Trevon Pendleton would be responsible for one of the game’s biggest highlights.
Pendleton, a 6-foot, 250-pound fullback initially began his collegiate football career at Michigan State University as a walk-on, but is now on scholarship. The fifth-year senior has had a great collegiate career in East Lansing. Starting for the Spartans for the past two seasons, Pendleton has been in several high profile games, but the game against the Buckeyes on November 21st could arguably be the biggest of this collegiate career, up to this point.
Earlier this year, Pendleton was key in the Spartans defeating the Michigan Wolverines. In the fourth quarter of that game, Pendleton received a pass from MSU quarterback Connor Cook that completely changed the game. The connection from Cook to Pendleton led to a 74-yard gain for the Spartans. At first, officials signaled a touchdown for the senior fullback from Lucasville, Ohio, but the call was overturned and Pendleton was called down just a few inches from the end zone.
The play completely changed the game against the Wolverines, something that would be reflected against the Buckeyes several weeks later.
In second quarter with only 8:05 remaining, the Spartans had the ball on the Ohio State 12-yard line. Trailing the Buckeyes 7-0, Michigan State needed a score to change the momentum of the game. Unbeknownst to the multitudes watching inside Ohio Stadium, and back home in Scioto County, one of the game’s biggest plays was about to occur.
It would be two Ohio natives that would be the focal point of the play, MSU quarterback Tyler O’Connor, and fullback Trevon Pendleton.
After the snap, Pendleton took off to the left sidelines, while O’Connor faked a handoff and dropped back for a play action pass. Looking at Pendleton the entire time, O’Connor fired the ball toward the left sideline, preventing the OSU defender, Joshua Perry from being able to make a play on the ball.
Pendleton caught the ball at about the 2-yard line, turning away from the sidelines, as Perry clutched him around the waist. Pendleton then lunged forward reaching out for the pylon just inside the end zone, as he and Perry were falling out of bounds.
As his body continued to fall out, Pendleton managed to keep both feet in play, and stretched out breaking the plane of the end zone and hitting the pylon, giving the Spartans their first score of the game.
“It was an experience that I still feel hasn’t really sunk in yet,” Pendleton said. “To have the opportunity to play in a game of that magnitude, in your home state, and to have the opportunity to have a lot of family there, just to have that type of opportunity and to be fortunate enough to be in a position to have the right play called, to give me the chance to score, and obviously our quarterback, Tyler O’Connor, threw a great ball that allowed me to make a play on the ball, and to turn up field and dive for the pylon, it was great.”
The game against OSU in Columbus was the closest Pendleton has played to his hometown, and as a result, a lot of friends and family had an opportunity to travel to the game to watch him play.
“I probably had more family at that game, than any other game I’ve had a Michigan State,” Pendleton said.
Pendleton knew he was one of the primary options for O’Connor on the play. The team had practiced the play several times, in which on one occasion the play ended up nearly like it did during the game. In practice, Pendleton caught the ball in the front corner of the end zone, just a few yards downfield from his catch during the game.
“I knew I was one of the primary targets, and saw that the linebacker bit just enough on the run fake, and saw that I was open, but wasn’t really wide open,” Pendleton said. “I knew that O’Connor was going to have to make a back shoulder throw, which we practiced previously, multiple times. The ball was in the air and I just tried to make a play on it, and give our team a touchdown.”
Pendleton said he will always be grateful for having the opportunity to play in front of a bunch of people from his hometown, family members and friends, in a game of that magnitude.
“Having the opportunity to help out your team in a big game when your number is called is something I’ve always tried to embrace, and is something that I am grateful for,” Pendleton said.
Pendleton’s score was celebrated by his teammates, but those celebrations were short, as he and the rest of the Spartans football team knew they still had a lot of football yet to play.
The Spartans will next play the Penn State Nittany Lions on Saturday. If MSU wins, they will move on to the Big Ten Championship game in Indianapolis, and will certainly be put into consideration for being named one of the four teams picked to be a part of the collegiate football playoff.
“Having this opportunity is something we set our goals on,” Pendleton said. “At the beginning of the season we kind of had our eyes set on this, to control your own destiny at the end of the season. To kind of have the ball on your side of the court, so to speak, is something that we hold high value on. If we go out and take care of business, we control our own destiny as far as getting to the Big Ten Championship Game.”
Trevon’s time in East Lansing has been spectacular.
“I knew since I took my visit here from high school, that this was the place for me,” Pendleton said. “It is a true family atmosphere here that Coach D (Mark Dantonio) has instilled here, and it reflects throughout the whole program with how everyone is treated.”
Pendleton has also really appreciated all the support his hometown has given him.
“My family, and my friends have been with me since day one, through the good times and the bad times,” Pendleton said. “I would just like to thank everyone for the support I get on a weekly basis, no matter who it is we are playing. It really good to see the community come together behind people like that, I just really appreciate it very much.”
Reach Michael Hamilton at 740-353-3101, ext 1931 or on Twitter @MikeHamilton82.