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!
“One more play and over the line!”
“You’ve got the elephants going at last.”
“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.