Ralph Barbour.

Quarter-Back Bates



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Stone, however, was still in the line-up when the third period began and Dick was anxiously looking on from the bench, one of some fifteen other equally anxious substitutes. It was when the last half was but four minutes old that Kenwood sprung her big surprise. The surprise was a tow-headed youngster who had been substituted at right half. Someone near the Leonardville contingent said his name was Marvel, and Sumner declared heartily that he was well-named. The next day’s papers called him Marble, which was probably correct but not nearly so descriptive. Marble was the nearest imitation of an eel that the Parkinson team had ever had to contend with. Kenwood played him close to the line, gave him the ball on a direct pass from centre and then set him loose. After he was loose he was about as easy to locate as a flea, and, having been located, about as easy as a flea to capture! His first stunt, and one that brought the visiting rooters to their feet with a sudden fierce and triumphant yell and sent Parkinson hearts into Parkinson boots, was a dash through the brown-and-white line outside left tackle. He went through much as a hot knife cleaves its way through butter, and after he was through he feinted and squirmed and doubled and twisted until only Stone stood between him and the Parkinson goal. And Stone missed him!

That forty-seven-yard run that ended in a touchdown squarely between the posts was just the medicine Parkinson needed, however, and with the score seven to naught against her, for Kenwood couldn’t have missed that goal with a blind and one-legged kicker, she set to work with a new determination and a new vim. Stone remained in just two plays after the kick-off. Then, not a little groggy, he limped off, loyally cheered, and Dick took his place.

Dick carried but one instruction with him. “Hustle your team, Bates,” Mr. Driscoll had said quietly.

With the coach’s encouraging thump on his shoulder to remember and the knowledge that his father and Sumner and the others were wishing him luck, Dick raced on with every nerve tingling and a big, hot desire in his heart to vindicate their faith in him. Bob Peters hailed him joyfully. Bob was as happy as a clam, despite an ensanguined nose. “Ata boy, Dick!” he sang out as Dick came up. “Look who’s here, fellows! What do you say?”

The others said many things, somewhat breathlessly but heartily, and Dick hurried back to his position the instant he had reported. “All right now, Parkinson!” he cried cheerfully. “Let’s see what we can do when we try! Every fellow on his toes and play fast! You’ve been asleep, every one of you! Let’s have some action. Let’s show ’em the game!”

CHAPTER XXIV
QUARTER-BACK BATES

The ball was still Kenwood’s on her forty-six and she had made five yards in two downs. Another thrust added a yard more. Then came a forward-pass, and Peters spoiled it while brown-and-white banners waved. Dick came running in, piping his signals on the way.

Then started one of those long and steady marches down the field that, while less thrilling, less spectacular than runs or passes, are far more gruelling.

If Parkinson had played slowly before she played so no longer. Never on that field had plays been run off faster, never had backs started quicker or linemen lunged harder. The pace told on the enemy before the thirty-yard line was passed. Dick chose his plays wisely, uncannily, thrusting here and there unexpectedly, trying this end and that and always somehow managing to get his ten yards in four downs. Sometimes the distance had to be measured and often the result was in doubt until the referee’s hand waved to the chain holders, but from the enemy’s forty-seven to her eight the advance continued remorselessly. Kirkendall and Warden were the heroes of that invasion, although Gaines and Peters, the latter twice sweeping around from position for short gains, took part as well. But on the eight yards Kenwood dug her toes and refused to give another inch. On the second down Kirkendall was doubled up for no gain, after Warden had failed off right tackle, and the big full-back was sent to the eighteen yards for a try-at-goal. But there was an attempted double pass first, and if Gaines had taken the throw from Dick in better shape it might have come off. As it was, however, Gaines almost dropped the ball, recovered it and was downed before he could toss across the line to the expectant Bob Peters. So, after all, that march tallied but three points for the Brown-and-White, and came near to not tallying at all, for Kenwood found a weak spot on the Parkinson right and plunged through desperately as Kirkendall booted. The pigskin cleared the upstretched hands by inches only, but cleared them and sailed safely over the bar.

Parkinson cheered and demanded further scores, but the third quarter ended in an exchange of punts after the kick-off and when the final period began the score was 7-3, with Parkinson on the short end and, so many thought, likely to stay there.

Coach Driscoll put in a new right guard and a new right tackle, Bartlett and Cairns, so bolstering what, all the season, had shown as the weakest part of the brown-and-white line. Scoville also went in, Furniss having played himself to a stand-still at left end.

Kenwood started from her twenty-nine yards when the period began and unloosed Marble again for a fifteen-yard romp, and again got him loose for twelve more, taking the ball well into Parkinson territory. Then two plunges failed and a forward-pass went wrong and the visitors punted to Dick on his twelve. A Kenwood end upset him before he had gained his speed. Parkinson started another march then, but it went less smoothly now and ended at her thirty-five, and Kirkendall punted. Kenwood returned on second down, losing several yards on the exchange. Again Parkinson took up her weary advance, but the plunges at the enemy line netted shorter gains and it was a forward-pass, Dick to Peters that took the home team to the enemy’s twenty-two yards. Here an attempt by Gaines around his own left was nipped in the bud. A penalty for holding set the Brown-and-White still further back and again she punted. Kenwood once more accepted the challenge and Warden caught near the boundary on his thirty-eight.

Kenwood began to make substitutions in earnest and Coach Driscoll called Gaines out and sent Long in. Many of the Parkinson team were showing the effects of the game by now and Bob Peters, though still confident and cheerful, looked like a wreck. Dick tried to persuade him to go off, but Bob indignantly spurned the notion. Time was flying fast and something less than six minutes remained when Parkinson lined up near the edge of the field on her thirty-eight. Long got two through the Kenwood centre and lost it on a second attempt at the same place. Dick ran half across the field for a scant three yards and Kirkendall romped around his own right for eight. Then another forward failed, for Scoville was far out of position for the catch, and Warden was knifed through the Kenwood left for two. With eight to go on third down, Kirkendall faked a kick and threw a short pass across the centre of the line which Peters just missed, and Kenwood took the ball.

Four minutes only remained and Kenwood tried every known method of wasting time. In the end, though, she was forced to punt, for Marble was stopped twice – the youngster had been used hard and was showing the result – and the pigskin was Parkinson’s on her forty-one. Kirkendall was pulled down for a loss and had to go out, and Trask, who took his place, made but a yard outside right tackle. Long skirted the enemy left for seven, however, and then made it first down on a plucky slam straight at centre. But it was hopeless to expect to snatch a victory by such slow methods, for the hands of the timekeeper’s watch were ticking off the seconds fast. Dick tried a forward, Trask to Peters, but Kenwood was not to be fooled and Bob never had a chance at the hurtling ball. The “two-over” netted four where the Kenwood line split to meet the shift. Dick tried the same play again on the opposite side and got three. Warden was hurt and gave way to Skinner. Trask punted to Kenwood’s seven and the fleet-footed and elusive Marble caught and brought the pigskin back to twenty-three, through the whole Parkinson team. Twice Kenwood dared to buck the brown-and-white line and then punted to safety.

But what seemed safety was not. For Dick made the catch on his twenty-eight yards, and for once the interference was all he could have asked for. Skinner and Peters upset the Kenwood ends and a hastily formed cordon of Parkinson players blocked the others. Dick looked and whirled to the left, cutting diagonally across behind his interference. Then he had to side-step an eager Kenwood tackle, and after that to run his hardest to throw off the Blue’s right half. But he did it, for he had found his stride now and that ability of which Sumner White had boasted to Dick’s father came to his aid. Straight along the side-line he flew, some five yards inside it, hard and fast, with the enemy speeding after him and the quarter-back coming down upon him. The fifty-yard-line went underfoot and the pursuit had not gained. But the enemy quarter was almost on him now. Dick eased his pace the littlest bit and veered further into the field. Whatever happened, he did not mean to be forced over the side-line. Not until he had passed the middle of the field did the thought that he might win the victory for Parkinson come to him. Until then he had thought only of getting free, of gaining what he might before he was thrown to the turf. Now, though, with only the quarter-back before him he caught a brief and wonderful glimpse of victory! If only he could get by the last of the enemy!

Then it happened, almost before he was ready to meet it! The Kenwood player poised, waited, sprang! Dick whirled on his heel, his right arm stretched before him, locked, and spun dizzily. Arms grasped his thighs, were torn loose, settled about his knees, held! Dick felt despair at his heart even as he strove to wrench free, to set his feet in new strides. And somehow, his hand thrusting at a head and his knees tugging at the bonds that held them together, he staggered free! Staggered and fell to one knee and one hand, but found his feet beneath him again and the goal beckoning!

The pursuit had closed in now and foremost friend and enemy were but a few yards behind, but Dick’s speed was still to be counted on and, although his lungs hurt and his legs felt leaden, he gained at every stride and sped on and on over one white line after another. Behind him panting players surged despairingly or joyously and beside him a thunderous surge of shouts and a wild din of cheers kept pace. Then the end was in sight. Here was the ten-yard-line beneath his feet, there the last trampled yellow-white mark and the padded posts of the goal! Only a few more strides, only a few more agonising gasps for breath!

Dick never knew when he actually crossed the line, never knew when, having crossed it, he circled the nearer post and dropped weakly to the earth to be pounced on as weakly by a Kenwood back. When he did know things clearly the world was a medley of triumphant shouting and the blaring of instruments and the thump-thumping of a bass drum. He was still fighting for breath when Trask kicked the goal that put the score at 10-7. And 10-7 it stayed, for there was only time for an exchange of punts and a discouraged rush by Kenwood when the whistle signalled the end of the game and the end of the season, the victory of Parkinson and the defeat of a worthy foe.

An hour later Dick sat in state in Number 14 Sohmer and received the congratulations of his friends. His father sat beside him, very proud and erect, beaming on all; on Blash and Rusty and Sid and Stanley and many more who stormed the hero’s retreat that November afternoon. And there let us leave him, with Blash’s words in our ears: “Two dozen citizens,” declaimed Blash, “in monster indoor meeting pay tribute to famous athlete, Richard Corliss Bates!”

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