Then the teams jogged quickly to places, and in an instant all was in readiness.
Over the spectators’ seats a hush had fallen. Even the Army and Navy cheer leaders looked nearly as solemn as owls. The musicians of the two bands lounged in their seats and instruments had been laid aside. There would be no more noise until one team or the other had started to do real things.
Quick and sharp came the signal. West Point kicked and the ball was in play.
Navy’s quarterback, after a short run, placed himself to seize the arching pigskin out of the air. Then he ran forward, protected by the Navy interference.
By a quick pass the ball came into Dave Darrin’s hands. Dalzell braced himself as he hit the strong Army line.
It was like butting a stone wall, but Darrin got through, with the aid of effective interference.
Army men bunched and tackled, but Dave struggled on. He did not seem to be exerting much strength, but his elusiveness was wonderful,
Then, after a few yards had been gained, Dave was borne to the earth, the bottom of a struggling mass until, the referee’s whistle ended the scrimmage.
Annapolis players could not help shooting keen glances of satisfaction at each other. The test had been a brief one, but now they saw that Darrin was in form, and that he could be depended upon to-day, unless severe accident came to cripple him.
Again the ball was put in play, this time going over to Farley and Page on the right end.
Only a yard did Farley succeed in advancing the ball, but that was at least a gain.
Then again came the pigskin to the left flank, and Dave fought it through the enemy’s battle line for a distance of eight feet ere he was forced to earth with it.
By this time the West Point captain was beginning to wonder what ailed his men. The cadet players themselves were worried. If the Navy could play like this through the game, it looked as though Annapolis might wipe out, in one grand and big-scored victory, the memory of many past defeats.
“Brace up, Army!” was the word passed through West Point’s eleven.
“Good old Darry!” chuckled Wolgast, and, though he did not like to work Darrin too hard at the outset, yet it was also worth while to shake the Army nerve as much as possible. So Wolgast signaled quarterback to send the ball once more by Midshipman Dave.
Another seven yards was gained by Darrin. The West Point men were gasping, more from chagrin than from actual physical strain. Was it going to prove impossible to stop these mad Navy rushes?
Then Wolgast reluctantly as he saw Dave limp slightly, decided upon working Page and Farley a little harder just at present. So back the ball traveled to the right flank was making, however, the Navy cheermaster started a triumphant yell going, in which nearly eight hundred midshipmen joined with all their lung power.