But the recruit is the possessor of a zeal that is dangerous. Before our center snaps the ball the new tackle charges and meets the ball behind our line. He tackles the runner and throws him for a loss, but the eagle eye of the umpire has seen the infraction of the rules, for no player of either side may cross the scrimmage line before the ball is snapped. The umpire takes the ball in hand and paces off five yards toward the enemy's goal, giving us the ball again. The off-side play was a costly one.
Steadily we approach their goal line once more and their defense, while futile, increases in desperation. Our full back plunges through the line and emerges squarely in front of the defensive quarter. The visitor forgets himself in the frenzy of defeat that seems certain, and his clenched fist shoots home. The blow was covertly given but the umpire is there to see such things. There is another distance penalty and the young man guilty of the slugging is sent from the game, while both sides cheer the decision. Foul play has no part in clean football.
With the further weakening of the visiting eleven there is no chance for them longer to hope to win the game. Over and through them the plays travel regularly. Every formation plunges into the line. Our resourceful captain's plan of attack is just versatile enough to prevent anticipation, while still maintaining a uniformity that invariably yields results. From two to four yards and even more are gained on almost every down. Still the bombardment of that line with those missiles of human brawn continues.
The enemy's ends keep drawing closer to the main body, to relieve their harassed comrades. Suddenly that close formation in which our backs have been playing melts into a thin line that charges widely around in a sweeping circle. The little quarter back takes the ball from the center and this time hugs it to his own breast, scudding along without passing it. It is the direct pass run and it has been signalled at just the proper moment. Behind his flying rampart the quarter back speeds safely along. His interference carries him past everybody but the opposing full back, for the play has caught the enemy's ends out of their places. It is a tackle or a touchdown now, for this is the last line of defense.
The full back leaps forward to make the tackle and just as he plunges, the runner rises in air as if to leap an obstruction. The tackier is cleanly cleared in a spectacular manner and, with the cheers of the thousands deafening his ears, the runner crosses the line for a touchdown and five points more, after a thrilling run.
But the goal line was crossed far from the posts which mark the middle and an attempt to kick goal from the angle which results along such a perpendicular would be hazardous. Accordingly a punt-out is decided on.
In front of the goal and 10 to 20 yards from it, a half-dozen of our men line up, while the full back stands, the ball in hand, right where the runner crossed the goal line. The full back punts the ball right into the midst of his comrades and the enemy charges, but all too late. One of the half backs has caught the punt and heeled it, making the place kick possible. The added point from the goal kick which follows is easily secured.
With the score 12 to 4 in our favor it seems certain that the game cannot now result in a defeat in the 15 minutes that remain to be played.
The side whose goal line has been crossed has the kick-off, of course. Again we start our march toward their goal, far up the field. It is still a fight, every inch of it, but the visitors are playing now solely to save the name of their Alma Mater from disgrace. Defeat is certain, but the spirit of the team inspires its men to keep playing the game with a zeal that cannot but rouse our admiration. Occasionally their brace gives them possession of the ball and once their feared, fleet runner brings back a punt for a thrilling dash of 30 yards, but he cannot play the whole game alone to a successful conclusion.
Forgetful of the sting of defeat which may be ours some clay, the great crowd still cheers every play. From across the field a loyal encouragement is still given by the visitors to their beaten team. The hopes of months are going down to defeat, but the men who are beaten have done their best and, when the final whistle is blown and the game is over, the players of each team gather close together and cheer each other after the style of true sportsmen who have tested each others' mettle with mutual respect.
Let us start homeward. It is time for us to prepare for the festivities of the evening. There will be lively times around the old campus tonight.