Left Half Harmonñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî
Five minutes later they were back again, greeted by the longdrawn “A – l – t – o – n! A – L – T – O – N!! A – L – T – O – N!!!” from hundreds of throats. And, when the Gray-and-Gold-striped players had spread down the field for the kick-off, there came the sharp, rifle-shot cheer of
A-L-T-O-N! A-L-T-O-N!! A-L-T-O-N!!!
Win! Win! Win! Win! Win! Win! Win! Win!
It was nip-and-tuck for the first half of that third period, with neither team making headway and the ball in air half the time. Alton’s forward-passes failed whenever tried, for Lorimer had a really brilliant defense against that play. From one thirty-yard line to another the battle raged, Lorimer making up for Alton’s slight superiority at punting by a better end attack. Gains through the line were not forthcoming to either team. Lorimer began to use her substitutes and Coach Cade followed her example by sending in Martin Proctor for Ross. Just before the period ended Gil Tarver gave way to Hutchins at quarter-back. There was no scoring and the whistle piped with the ball in Alton’s hands on her opponent’s thirty-eight.
While the referee carried the ball across the center and the players gathered about the water pails Willard heard his name called and looked down the bench to see Mr. Cade beckoning. His heart turned a complete somersault – or seemed to – while he traversed the eight yards and halted before the coach!
“Harmon, you’ve showed a pretty fair knack of getting away outside tackles,” said Mr. Cade. “Do you think you could manage to do it if you went in there now?”
Willard was conscious of the players on either side of the coach, could feel their slightly amused glances on him and knew they were waiting intently for his answer. He felt supremely awkward and embarrassed at that moment. But he had to say something, for Mr. Cade, although he was watching the players assembling again, was awaiting a reply.
“I’ll try, sir,” he managed.
Mr. Cade nodded. “Won’t promise, eh?” He looked up then into Willard’s face, and the boy was vastly relieved to see that his eyes were twinkling. “All right, go ahead,” said the coach. “Your right end looms the easiest, Harmon. If you can get that left end of theirs to play wide for a forward-pass you ought to be able to get started. Do your best, boy,” Mr. Cade nodded again, smilingly.
“Left half, sir?” asked Willard, through the folds of his sweater, which simply wouldn’t come off.
“Left half,” responded the coach.
A FORTY-YARD RUN
Mawson yielded position and head-guard unwillingly. He even sneered a little, but Willard was far too excited to see it. He took his position two yards away from Cochran, eyeing that youth’s dirt-streaked countenance with speculative interest as he did so, and awaited Hutch’s signals. Slightly behind him, Browne was breathing stertorously, a cut at one corner of his mouth lending him a particularly ferocious look.
“Third down!” chanted the referee.
“About six to gain!”
Then Willard was squirming in between Leroy and Myers, while Browne, hugging the ball, smashed past center on the other side. The play went for three yards. Then Hutch punted miserably, barely over the heads of the forwards, and the ball plumped into the Lorimer quarter-back’s arms and that youth came dodging, dashing back up the field to the thirty-one yards. On the first play Macon was off-side and Alton lost five yards. A complicated criss-cross sent a back plunging between Newhall and Proctor, and Browne’s tackle missed and it was Hutch who laid him low twelve yards behind the line. The visitor’s cohorts cheered madly. Lorimer tried a forward to an end far to the right, but Lake and Willard each had the man marked and the pass grounded. A skin-tackle play off Proctor netted four yards, and, on third down, faking a kick, the Lorimer full-back plunged straight through Nichols, at center, for four more. Willard emerged from that pile-up with a ringing head and was glad when time was called, even though, as it proved, the interlude was necessitated by an injury to Browne. Willard sat down on the ground and tried to look happy, but he was horribly dizzy and the group around the recumbent full-back wavered before his eyes. Eventually they took Browne off and replaced him with Linthicum, and the game went on.
Lorimer was on her mettle now and she made it first down on Alton’s forty-one with a smashing attack at left tackle. Finding that spot weak, she tried it again and, although Captain Myers worked like a Trojan to stop up the gap, an enemy back charged through for nearly five yards. Leroy was pretty well played out after that, and Putney took his place. Lorimer made her distance in two more downs, using a shift to the left followed by a quarter-back plunge through the opponent’s short side that netted the needed five yards and placed the pigskin almost on the home team’s thirty. There, however, Alton stiffened and, after two attempts at the line, Lorimer faked a forward and sent a half straight through between Nichols and Newhall for seven yards. With three to go on fourth down, and the ball on the twenty-two, Lorimer walked back and talked it over. Then the stage was set for a placement kick and the cheering and shouting ceased.
Followed a still, tense moment, broken only by Hutch’s imploring “Break through, Alton! Block it!” and the quarter’s precise, slow signals. Back went the ball, too high but straight enough, and the quarter, kneeling on the turf behind the Lorimer line, caught it deftly, lowered it quickly to earth and pointed it. Cries, warnings, the rasping of canvas against canvas, smothered gasps, and the scene, so orderly an instant before, broke into confusion. Alton tore through desperately, shouldering, plunging, reaching into the path of the ball. But the Lorimer full-back, deliberate to the point of danger, swung his foot and the ball sailed off, barely above the charging foe, rising slowly and turning lazily over and over on in its flight. There was a moment of suspense and then a white-sweatered timekeeper swung his hands above his head and Lorimer cheered wildly, triumphantly! On the score-board an important young Alton sophomore placed a glaring white 3.
Willard followed his teammates back to midfield in silence. There wasn’t much chatting just then, although Hutch called cheerfully enough for a score. There was less than six minutes remaining, but that, Willard assured himself, was enough time to win in. On the stand Alton was cheering heartily, undismayed. Coach Cade was sending in three new men: Johnston for Proctor at right tackle, McLeod for Macon and Moncks for Cochran. For a moment, seeing Moncks trotting on, Willard’s heart sank, but it was Cochran’s head-guard that the newcomer donned. Martin had done none so badly at tackle, but the position was a strange one to him and he had had his bad moments.
Lorimer kicked off and the battle began again. The ball went to Moncks and Willard swung in ahead and was joined by Hutchins and the three went sweeping diagonally across the field. Then Willard met an enemy and both sprawled, and Linthicum darted away from the interference and ran straight into the arms of a big Lorimer guard. The teams lined up in the twenty-four yards close to the side-line. Hutch’s heave to Joe Myers went short, was tipped by a Lorimer end and fell to the ground. On the next play, Willard, ball hugged tight, swept around his own end behind Hutch and Myers, dodged the opposing end, turned in and dodged and twisted for eight yards before he was dragged, still fighting hard, to earth. Linthicum tried the right of the line and lost a yard and Moncks made it first down past tackle. A short forward over the line landed safely in Joe Myers’ hands for nine yards and Willard added two through left guard.
Just short of the middle of the field, with the minutes running fast, Hutch called for Formation C and the Alton line spread widely. Lorimer edged out in answer. Willard, crouched behind his left guard, looked straight ahead. Hutch called his signals. Linthicum swung and ran across the field to the left. Back shot the ball to Hutch, five yards behind center. Lorimer charged, coming through the wide gaps in the Alton line. Hutch stepped back while Willard crossed in front of him. Then came a short pass and the left half, the ball snuggled in his right elbow, shot straight into the line. Linthicum’s diversion had drawn the Lorimer backfield from position, and Willard, having dodged one slow-moving Lorimer forward, found an open field for several yards. Then, however, the enemy closed about him and his race seemed run. There was no interference to aid him, for Hutch was down, and Moncks, having run the end out, was far behind. McLeod made a desperate effort to get into the running, but Willard was fleeter. He side-stepped a Lorimer half and was momentarily free, and swung toward the middle of the field as he crossed the enemy’s forty. Behind him raced friend and foe. He had slipped through the worst of the opposition, but ahead of him a determined quarter awaited and from the left speeded a half. The latter Willard scarcely feared, for he had a fair lead, but the quarter spelled disaster. Nearer and nearer he came to the latter, a smallish, hard-fighting youth who held his distance grimly, only moving slightly to the right as though anticipating Willard’s intention. The Alton stand was shouting wildly, confusedly, but Willard had no knowledge of it. The thumping of his heart and the rasping of his breath seemed to be the only sounds in the world!
Then the supreme instant came. Close to the thirty-yard line the enemies met. Something had told Willard that the opponent was too knowing, too quick and agile to be fooled by side-stepping, and so, a few yards away, Willard shifted the ball to his stomach, clasped both hands over it and put his head down. Straight into the quarter he charged, with every ounce of strength thrusting his body forward. And as he charged he twisted and spun.
Arms encompassed, his thighs and hands clutched desperately, yet he found his stride again and went forward. Something clung for a moment to one leg and he staggered, fell to a knee and threw his body forward. The weight was gone and he was on his feet again! He set his straining eyes on the goal posts and struggled forward. But now it seemed that his feet were huge pieces of lead and his head swam dizzily. Four strides, five, six, and again he felt the touch of fingers that groped for a hold. Summoning his remaining strength, he moved free, head back and lungs bursting. He was past the fifteen-yard line and the gray, padded posts wavered in the sunlight, close at hand. But he was not to reach them.
If Willard had run a good race, so, too, had the Lorimer right half-back, and the latter had been but a scant five yards away when Willard had shaken himself free of the quarter’s tackle. And so, just short of the ten yards, the struggle ended. A last supreme effort and the pursuer’s arms wrapped themselves around the quarry’s legs. One short stride followed and then pursued and pursuer lay prone and unmoving across the lime mark!
That ended Willard’s usefulness for that day, just as it ended the usefulness of his captor, for both boys were fairly run out. But the ball lay well inside the ten yards, and Alton’s cheers were exultant and unceasing while the half-fainting youths were administered to, Longstreth raced out to replace Willard and Lorimer sent in a substitute right half. Willard saw the last three minutes of the game from a pile of blankets at the end of the bench, saw his teammates make three gallant attempts to conquer those last stubborn nine yards, saw, with a sinking heart, Moncks stopped two yards from the line and hurled back, saw Captain Myers walk determinedly back up the field to kicking position.
Hopeless gloom shrouded the bench. Myers was no goal kicker, and all knew it. Had there been a single, solitary player out there who knew the least thing about that art he would never have attempted it. But substitution had deprived the team of Cochran and Tarver and Macon, and none of those who remained on the bench could be depended on. When all was said and done, perhaps Hutch might have chosen more wisely had he risked a forward-pass on that final down. Yet Hutch knew that Lorimer would be looking for that play and knew that if it failed Alton’s last opportunity to score would be lost. And he didn’t make the choice unaided, for Joe Myers counseled it. Joe said afterwards that he had no more idea of booting the ball over than he had of flying. Yet a more effortless, more perfect drop-kick than he made would have been hard to imagine! Straight between the uprights and well over the cross-bar it sailed, and no one needed the corroboration of the official’s upthrown hands to tell him that Alton had tied the score!
And a tied score it remained when the final whistle blew.
Alton showed as much delight over the drawn battle as though she had won overwhelmingly, and Lorimer, trying hard to smile, took what comfort she could. But if the School felt jubilant and triumphant, it was plainly to be seen that Coach Cade did not share its emotions. That game had clearly demonstrated the fact, long suspected, that the Gray-and-Gold backfield was far from the scoring combination it should be. With Lake playing left end, a position he had proved his fitness for that afternoon, the left half-back position was left to Mawson or Harmon. Each, while he showed much promise, was inexperienced. Cochran, on the other side, was steady but far from brilliant. The full-back position was the weakest spot of all. Neither Browne nor Linthicum had the hard-fighting spirit needed. That Alton had not met defeat was due to a flash of cleverness on the part of Harmon and not to any dependable team-work by the backs. The coach, while he appeared to be listening attentively enough to Joe Myers’ short-breathed remarks as they walked together to the gymnasium, was in reality grimly determining on a backfield shake up when Monday arrived.
“If there’d been anyone around him to put that Lorimer half-back out,” said Joe, “he’d have made it easily.”
“Who?” Mr. Cade asked blankly.
“Why, Brand Harmon! He made a corking try, anyway!”
“Harmon? Yes, that’s so,” agreed the coach thoughtfully. “Think it was an accident? Suppose he could do it again?”
“He’s got it in him,” answered Joe convincedly. “Give him a try, sir. I would.”
“I think I shall,” mused the other. “He certainly deserves it.”
They went to the movies that evening, a jovial, noisy “gang” of nearly a dozen that included the “Three Guardsmen,” Willard, Don Harris, Stacey Ross, Cal Grainger and several more. Unfortunately, the picture lacked action to a lamentable degree, being largely concerned with the doings of a few ladies and gentlemen who when at home, which was infrequent, lived in large white marble palaces in Westchester County, New York. At least, the titles placed the scene of the story in Westchester County, but Martin expressed incredulity, asserting that he had never seen palmettoes and cocoanut palms growing in that locality in such profusion. Jack Macon, however, was of the opinion that “anyone as rich as those guys could have their lawns trimmed with palms even if they lived at the North Pole!” The hero was a strapping gentleman with a broad, flat face, large, limpid eyes and a very brief mustache. He dressed immaculately on all occasions, which, since he, like everyone else, was forever “weekending” somewhere, must have caused him a great deal of thought and care. Of course, he had a Japanese valet at his beck and call, and that probably helped. Don Harris declared that when he became wealthy he would have a valet just like the one in the picture. “Why,” he marveled, “that fellow doesn’t even have to go to the telephone. The valet pulls the thing out by the roots and brings it to him wherever he is! That’s what I call service!”
Paul Nichols, who had played center all through the afternoon’s game and who, consequently, was rather tired, went sound asleep somewhere about the third reel and snored loudly until the final “fade-out,” to the amusement of his companions and the audience in general. Martin expressed the fear, loudly enough to be heard by Bob, several seats distant, that Nichols had contracted the sleeping sickness from “one of our number.” The comedy that followed the big picture provided a few “fine moments,” but, on the whole, the party considered that they had wasted the evening. Nichols was aroused with difficulty and led, in a comatose condition, up the aisle and into the street where the brisk October breeze that was hurrying and scurrying through the little town awakened him more thoroughly. Having missed most of the entertainment, Nichols insisted on partaking of food and drink and, being in funds this evening, invited the party to visit the lunch-cart. This vividly painted institution stood at night in the square at the other side of town, a matter of twelve blocks in distance, but, as Nichols pointed out, the night was still young. So they set out, decorously joyous, along West Street, “window shopping” as they went, and turned down Meadow Street and finally reached the Square and hailed the crimson and blue windows of the “Owl Night Lunch” with shouts of approval that won them the fleeting interest of the single blue-coated guardian of the law on duty there. Fortunately, since their numbers were many, the lunch-cart held but a solitary patron, a car conductor indulging in the delicacy referred to on the wall as “Tonight’s Special: Pork Chop and Fried Onions, 30c.” The viands had diffused a perceptible fragrance through the establishment, but no one voiced criticism save Martin. Martin halted at the doorway and registered suspicion followed by disgust.
“What’s the matter?” asked Bob, behind him. “Go on in!”
“Onions!” said Martin in pained tones.
“What of it?”
“I can’t stand ’em. Gee, the place is full of ’em!”
“Well, you don’t have to eat them,” replied Bob comfortingly, while those behind him earnestly requested “gangway!” Martin allowed himself to be shoved inside, but during the subsequent proceedings he wore his nose in an elevated position and looked most unhappy, a circumstance that interested Bob greatly for a reason not then apparent. Sandwiches and coffee constituted the menu served. Bob generously offered to buy Martin a chopped onion sandwich if he would eat it, which offer was thanklessly, almost rudely, declined. That banquet cost Paul Nichols most of his cash in hand, but he settled the bill in an almost regal manner; quite, as Martin commented, as though he lived amongst the palms of Westchester!
Going back, Willard walked with Joe and Jack Macon, and the talk was mostly of the day’s game. Joe was rather cynical and predicted disaster in the Kenly contest unless things got better soon. “We need beef on the team,” said Joe bitterly. “We’ve got plenty of fellows who know football, but they’re too lady-like, Jack. It doesn’t do to stop and apologize before you hit the line or keel a chap over! Kenly will bring a lot of hard-hitting ‘rough-necks’ that’ll make us look like a parcel of ‘co-eds’!”
“Oh, we aren’t that bad,” said Jack soothingly. “It’s early yet – ”
“Early nothing! The season’s half over! Gee, we’ve got to learn to fight, Jack, or we’ll get literally walked on!”
“Seems to me the backfield’s a bit light, Joe.”
“Of course it is, and it’s lighter than ever since Lake’s gone to left end. We’ve got to find a full-back, and find him mighty quick, and that’s no dream!”
“Too bad you couldn’t land that fellow Harmon you were talking about,” said Jack. Then he turned in a puzzled way to Willard. “Say, your name’s Harmon, too, isn’t it?” he exclaimed. “That’s odd!”
“Not very,” said Joe hurriedly. “The Harmon I was after was Brand’s brother. If we’d got him we’d been fixed.”
“What happened?” asked Jack. “I understood it was all fixed up.”
“Oh, he changed his mind,” replied Joe carelessly. “Went into the Navy, didn’t he, Brand?”
“Yes,” corroborated Willard gravely.
“Too bad,” murmured Jack. “Too bad you aren’t your brother, Harmon!”
“Well, Brand’s doing pretty well where we had him today,” said Joe.
“Rather!” agreed the other. “He surely had one fine moment this afternoon. If it hadn’t been for that Lorimer end or half – which was he? Half? – well, if it hadn’t been for him Harmon would have scored in a romp!”
“That’s the trouble with C Formation,” replied Joe. “If the runner does get away he has no interference half the time. The end’s supposed to get free and go ahead, but he can’t do it very often. The more I think about today’s game, fellows, the more certain I am that we were mighty lucky to break even! Lorimer ought to have won on the showing she made.”
“Well, she didn’t,” answered Jack cheerfully. “And results count.”
Up ahead, Bob was questioning Martin regarding the latter’s lack of enthusiasm for onions. “What is it you don’t like about them, Mart? The taste or the smell or what?”ñêà÷àòü êíèãó áåñïëàòíî
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