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   Chapter 11 THE BAND COULDN'T MAKE ITSELF HEARD

Dave Darrin's Third Year at Annapolis; Or, Leaders of the Second Class Midshipmen By H. Irving Hancock Characters: 10340

Updated: 2017-12-01 00:02


Within five minutes the Hanniston players had established the fact that they were not only bulky, but quick and brainy. In fact, though the Navy promptly blocked the ball and got it, the middies were unable to make headway against the college men. Then Hanniston took the ball, fighting slowly but steadily toward the Navy goal line.

"I don't see Darrin making any wonderful plays," thought Jetson to himself. He was gloomy over seeing the Navy outplayed, but secretly glad that the spectators had as yet found no occasion to shout themselves hoarse over Midshipman Dave's work.

Outside of the brigade the other spectators in the Navy seats felt themselves tinder a cloud of increasing gloom.

"From all the talk I had expected more of Mr. Darrin," remarked an officer's wife-to her husband.

"Darrin has a fearful Hanniston line against him," replied the officer. "Captain Hepson realizes that, too, and he isn't pushing Darrin as hard as you might wish to see."

"We're going to be beaten, aren't we?" asked another Navy onlooker.

It was as yet too early to predict safely, though all the appearances were that the visitors would do whatever scoring was to be done to-day.

Yet, even when they felt themselves outclassed, the middies hung to their opponents with dogged perseverance. It took nearly all of the first half for the Hannistons to place the Navy goal in final, desperate danger.

Then, of a sudden, while the Hannistons worked within a dozen yards of the Navy goal line, the college boys made a new attack, the strongest they had yet shown.

There was a bumping crash as the lines came together, at the Navy's right. Farley and Page were swept clear off their feet and the assailants swept onward. Another clever attack, backed by a ruse, and one of the college boys started on a dead run with the ball. In vain the Navy's backs tried to stop him. The Hanniston boys successfully interfered for their runner, and the ball was touched down behind the goal line.

Gone were the cheers that had been ascending from the brigade. All the

Navy crowd gasped in dismay. The ball was carried back, kicked, and

Hanniston had scored six points.

"Ha, ha, ha! Ha, ha, ha, ha-Hanniston! Wow!" went up derisively from the visiting howlers.

"Hepson! Hepson! Pull us out!" came the appeal.

"Darry! Darry! Rush it!"

As the two elevens were lining up for another start the time-keeper's whistle sounded the end of the first half of the game.

Gloomy, indeed, were those who had hoped to see the Navy win. There were no cheers, save from the visitor-howlers. The best that the leader of the band could do, was to swing his baton and start in the strains of "'Twas Never Thus in Olden Times."

"What do you make of the enemy, Hepson?" inquired Joyce, as the middies rested at the side lines.

"We haven't made anything of them yet, but we've got to make wrecks of 'em before the last half is over," grunted the captain of the Navy.

"How are we going to do it?" asked another player.

"By just hanging at them with sheer grit," replied the captain gravely. "Fellows, they've beaten us so far, but they haven't worn us out any. Big fellows as the Hannistons are, they may not have the endurance to hang to us through all of the coming half."

"That makes me remember a song I heard when on leave this year," grinned

Page. "A part of it runs:

'Said the ant to the elephant,

"Who are ye shoving?

There's one wide river to cross!"'

"And we're the elephants?" inquired Farley in mock innocence.

"Do we look it?" demanded Page in disgust.

"Remember, fellows," warned Hepson, as the signal summoned both teams back to the field, "many a hopeless game has been won in the last five minutes. But don't wait. Hammer the college boys from the start!"

"Dalzell and I can stand hard work and pounding whenever you get ready to put it on us," Dave announced to Hepson. "Don't try to spare us any. Both of us would sooner be carried away on stretchers than see the Navy lose its first game to a minor college."

The game was resumed. For ten minutes the Navy played mainly on the defensive. Indeed, to the spectators it seemed all that the middies could do against such big fellows as the visitors.

Just after that, however, Hepson passed the silent signal, and then the midshipmen hurled themselves into the fray to test out all the endurance that the Hanniston players might possess.

Many a college boy on the opposing line wondered where these smaller men in the Navy togs had obtained all the fight that they now showed. The big fellows didn't seem able to stand it long. The Navy had the ball, and now slowly fought down toward the college goal. Onlookers in the Navy seats began to stand up, to watch breathlessly, and be ever ready to cheer.

"Hurl little Darry in!" yelled someone hoarsely in a momentary lull in the noise.

But Hepson, watching every chance with tigerish eyes, was yet cool-headed, as a football general should be. Twice he used Darrin to advance the ball, and each time Dave gained a few yards. The third time, wearied by pounding his head against a human stone wall, Dave fai

led to gain more than half a yard. Watchful Hepson sent the ball, after the next snap-back, over to the Navy's right.

The time of the second half was slipping away, and it now looked as though the middies might gradually have won by the steady, bull-dog quality of their tactics.

Nearer and nearer to the college goal line the team of smaller men fought the pigskin, until at last they had it within six yards of the Hanniston fortress. But at this point the visitors stayed further progress long enough to have the pigskin ovoid come to them by a block.

The situation was desperate. Hanniston could not get the ball away from its present locality, and in dread the college captain sent the ball back of his own line to a safety.

This counted two for Annapolis, but it also set the ball back twenty-five yards from the college line.

"Block! block! block-if you can't fight the ball back to the Navy goal," was the word that Captain Hart, of the college team, sent along his own line. "Don't be too reckless. Just fight to keep the Navy from scoring."

"Hepson! Hepson!" came, appealingly, from the seats, as the two elevens lined up at the twenty-five-yard line.

"Darry! O Darry!"

Grim determination written on their faces, eleven middies awaited the signal, then hurled themselves forward like tigers.

The ball came to Dave, who started with it. Dan Dalzell, watching his chum with cat-like eyes, followed and made the best interference that he had offered that day.

Five and a half yards won!

As center bent for the snap back, a "fake" signal was called by the Navy quarter-back.

Just as the ball started, the Navy players back of the line started toward the right The Hanniston men, tired now, but full of grit as ever, moved to block. The Navy gained a second or two, for the pass was really to the left, and again Darrin had the pigskin clutched tightly as he started to ran and deceive. Again Dan and the others of the interference sustained their idol and champion. Dave went soon to earth, but he had forced the ball another six yards!

"Darry-oh, Darry!"

"One more play and over the line!"

"You've got the elephants going at last."

"Rush 'em!"

"A touchdown saves us!"

Dan's face was flushed, Dave's white and set as the line again formed for the next play.

Quarter-back Joyce held up his head, watching the field like a mouse seeking escape.

Then came the emergency signal: "Nine-fourteen-twenty-two-three!"

Back came the pigskin while the middies seemed to throw their bodies toward the right. It looked as though they were trying to mask this feint.

The ball was in motion. But Dave had it, instead of Farley. Instantly the Navy swung its entire line toward the left, for this was the grand rush, the die on which everything was cast!

Dave was darting forward, and never had his interference backed him better.

Before Midshipman Darrin stood one of the big college men, who looked fully equal to stopping the midshipman anywhere and at any time.

Nor did Darrin try to dodge this bulky player. Instead, Dave, as he hurled himself at the opponent, sprang high into the air, as though he had some desperate plan of leaping over the barrier.

Braced on his legs, his two feet solidly planted, this Hanniston man felt ready for any shock that Dave Darrin could bring against him.

But Darrin did not touch him. On the contrary, the Navy's hope fell to the ground, just short of the blocking opponent.

Like a flash Dave went between that pair of solidly braced, wide-spread legs. In a wriggle that looked flash-like to the breathless beholders, Darrin was through. He had taken desperate chances, when he went down, of being beset, end forced to hold the pigskin where he had fallen.

But now Dave was up and running, and the player who had sought to block him was far in the rear.

The whole Navy force hurled itself around this point, battering down the startled opposition. With fast-coming breath Dave's comrades pushed him along breaking down all opposition-until Dave, with a sudden, wild dash, was over the line for a touchdown.

"Darry did it! Darry did it!"

For fifteen seconds the uproar was deafening. The college players looked stunned, while their howlers, over on the visitors' seats, seemed to shrink within their coats.

"Seven to six!"

"Make it eight!"

Dave Darrin had borne the brunt of battle. Now his eyes were flashing with excitement.

"I'd like you to try the kick for goal, Darry, but I don't know," called

Hepson in his ear. "You may be about used up."

"Let me have the kick. I'm not afraid," Dave half boasted, for now he could think of nothing but victory.

"All right. Take it," agreed Hepson.

Dave Darrin did take the kick. Never had he made a better one. The ball went straight and true between the goal-posts.

The band-leader held his baton poised, but the Navy spectators broke into such a riot of joy that he let the baton fall inertly.

"What's the use?" he asked the musicians.

Again the players lined up, with the Navy; score eight to six.

Ten seconds later, the whistle blew, announcing the end of the game.

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