Jetson scowled, but said nothing more. Neither did he offer to retire from the field.
“Jetson has always been a kicker and a trouble mosquito,” whispered Dan Dalzell to his chum.
“Oh, in a lot of ways Jetson is a nice fellow,” Darrin replied quietly. “The greatest trouble that ails him is that he has just a trifle too large opinion of the importance of his own opinions. There are a lot of us troubled in that way.”
The kicking practice was put through with dash and vim. Then Midshipman Hepson, after a brief conference with the head coach, called off the line-up for the provisional Navy team, following this with a roster of the second team, or “Rustlers,” so called because they force the men of the Navy team to rustle to keep their places.
Dave Darrin was called off for left tackle, Dan for left end. Farley and Page held the corresponding positions on the right end of the line-up.
“Begin the game, the Rustlers to have the ball,” called Lieutenant-Commander Havens.
“And mix it up lively, Navy,” called Hepson, who, both on account of his size and other qualifications, played center.
At the whistle-blast the Rustlers kicked it off—a beautiful, long, arching curve. The ball came to quarter-back, who passed it to Dave Darrin.
Then the fun began.
The Navy line hit the Rustlers hard and tried to bump through. Dan Dalzell devoted every ounce of his strength and every turn of his energy to boosting Darrin through—and Dave himself was not idle. There was an instant of sullen, hard resistance. Then, somehow, Dave was shot through the opposing line. Like a deer he sped, Dan hanging to his flanks. It was up to the Rustlers’ halfback now, and that bulky young midshipman leaped to the fray, cleverly barring the way.
At least, the Rustlers’ halfback thought he had Darrin blocked. It is never wise to take too much for granted.
As the halfback planted himself for the grapple, Dave suddenly dropped through that opponent’s grip and went to the ground.
As though he had been shot through, Dave Darrin went under and past, on one side, between the halfback’s legs. He was up again, with Dan at his back. Fullback came at them, but Dan bumped that player aside. Dave dashed on across the line, scoring a touchdown.
Never had the gridiron been the scene of greater excitement than in that rousing moment.
“Darrin! Darrin! Darrin!” came hoarsely; from hundreds of throats.
“Dalzell! Dalzell!” came the next gusty roar.
Hepson wiped a moist brow with one hand.
“There are two real players, if they can keep that up,” muttered the captain of the eleven.
Jetson had been the tackle opposed to Dave. Just now Jetson was nursing a bump to his vanity.
“How on earth did I ever happen to let Darrin through?” Jetson demanded of himself. “I won’t do it again, anyway. If I can only make Darrin look small, I may get his place on the Navy eleven. Darrin is a good fellow, but I’ve got to make the team, confound him!”