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    Chapter 9

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    Chapter 10
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    THE FOOTBALL GAME

    At first the playing was rather tame, but inside of a few minutes both elevens warmed up, and from that moment the work became fast and furious.

    The Dauntless team had the advantage of weight, but the eleven had not played together as much as had the majority of the Putnam Hall cadets, consequently some of their combination efforts were decidedly ragged. One move resulted in a bad fumble on the part of the left end. The ball was captured by Jack, and he carried it forward fifteen yards before downed.

    "Oh, my, isn't it rough!" screamed Laura Ford, as the young major hit the grass with great force, two of the Dauntless men being on top of him.

    "Oh, that's all in the game," was Pepper's comment. "But I shouldn't want to see anybody get his ribs stove in," he added.

    Putnam Hall got the pigskin to within ten yards of the Dauntless goal line, and then came an unexpected turn of affairs. The leather was lost by the Putnam Hall center, and carried around the right end and up the field for thirty yards.

    "Hurrah! that's the way to do it, Dauntless!"

    "Keep it up!"

    "Dauntless to the front!" yelled Roy Bock. "Everybody in the game!" and then, in the midst of the excitement, he drew back with a soft apple in his hand and threw the half-decayed fruit at Jack. It just grazed the young major's shoulder.

    Pepper was on the watch, for he had expected just such a dirty trick. He leaped up, and reaching over, caught the Pornell student by the ear.

    "Ouch!" yelled Bock. "Let go!"

    "You get out of the grandstand!" cried Pepper. "If you don't I'll get a crowd to mob you."

    "See here, Ditmore----"

    "Don't talk--get!" interrupted Pepper.

    "Let Roy alone!" sang out Bat Sedley. "If you don't, I'll crack you one!"

    "Hello, you rascals!" came unexpectedly from nearby, and a farmer named Baker showed himself. "You here? Jest wait till I git my paws on you!" And he started in the direction of Roy Bock, Bat Sedley and two of their cronies.

    "Great Scott! It's that farmer!" ejaculated Roy Bock, and he started to scramble out of the grandstand in a hurry, and after him went the others.

    But they were not quite quick enough for Darius Baker, and at the foot of the stand the farmer caught Bock in one hand and Bat Sedley in the other. Then he swung the two together until their heads cracked.

    "Will steal my apples and pears?" he shrilled. "Will talk sassy to my darter, eh? I'll teach you!" And then, letting go suddenly, he cuffed Roy Bock on the ear and thumped Bat Sedley in the jaw so hard that that student howled outright.

    "Let up!"

    "Please don't hit me again!"

    "It was all a mistake!"

    "No mistake!" bawled Darius Baker. "Git out o' here before I call the constable an' have ye locked up!" And then Roy Bock and his cronies lost no time in hurrying away, without so much as looking behind them.

    "Guess you know 'em?" remarked Pepper, when the farmer came back into the stand and resumed his seat.

    "Guess I do!" was the snorted-out reply. "They came around to my place yesterday, and stole my apples and pears, and talked sassy to my darter an' the hired man. I saw 'em, but they ran, away before I could git my hands on 'em. I vowed I take 'em down a peg when I met 'em, an' I guess I done it," added the old farmer, with evident satisfaction.

    "You did, Mr. Baker," answered Pepper. "And you've done us a service in the bargain."

    "How's thet?"

    "Those fellows came here to make trouble for our eleven, the Putnam Hall team."

    "That so? Well, then, I'm mighty glad I cleared 'em out. I like to see a game now an' then, but I want it clean--no rowdy work."

    There was no time to say more, for everybody was interested in the game. The Dauntless eleven had worked the pigskin up to within a few yards of the Putnam Hall goal line, and now over it came.

    "A touchdown for Dauntless!"

    "Great work! Now make it a goal!"

    The ball was brought out, and the Dauntless quarterback kicked a beautiful goal, amid a great cheering and tooting of horns.

    "Eight minutes more to play," said Dale. "Boys, let us tie the score if nothing else."

    Again the battle was on, and now Dale made a beautiful run, being aided by some fine interference by Jack and Andy. Then Hogan got the pigskin and worked it up to within five yards of the Dauntless goal line--and then the whistle blew and the first half of the great game had to come to a close.

    The Putnam Hall eleven were a sober lot when they filed into their dressing-room to be rubbed down and to talk it over.

    "Well, they've only got a touchdown and goal to their credit," said Jack, cheerfully. "That's not such a terrible lead to overcome."

    "We must have more snap and ginger!" cried Dale. "Now, I want everybody on the job from the word go."

    "Try that left-end play," suggested George Strong. "It may surprise them--and, anyway, it can do no harm."

    The play he mentioned was something of a trick they had been practicing for a week. It was rather intricate, but Dale promised to take his advice and use it at the first opportunity.

    The Dauntless eleven scented a victory, and went into the second half of the game with renewed vigor. But Putnam Hall stood up manfully, and Andy got the pigskin in a manner that elicited much applause. He carried it down the gridiron for eight yards and passed it over to Jack. Then, on the next down, Dale signaled for the trick play. Across the field came the ball and then back to center. Here a quick turn was made that bewildered the Dauntless eleven. On came the pigskin, and almost before anybody knew it, Jack kicked a goal from the field.

    "Hurrah! a field goal for Putnam Hall!"

    "Talk about clever work, wasn't that great?"

    "It sure was!"

    "Never mind," came from a Dauntless supporter. "That doesn't count as much as the goal from a touchdown."

    "Well, it's blood for Putnam Hall, anyway."

    Again the leather went into play, and once more each eleven did its level best to force the pigskin over the opponents' line. The Dauntless aggregation were now wary of more tricks, and they tried a trick of their own, massing at the left and then running the ball up center. But this did not work. The ball was lost to Andy, who passed it over to Dale.

    "Go it, Blackmore!" was the cry.

    "Down him, Cressy!"

    On and on sped Dale with the rival left end at his heels. Hogan and Jack were pounding on behind, and they stopped Cressy from blocking the Putnam Hall captain. Over the line came Dale, to drop flat an instant later, out of breath.

    "Hurrah! a touchdown for Putnam Hall."

    "Now for a goal!"

    The wind was blowing strongly, yet Andy measured the distance well and kicked the goal, amid a cheering that could be heard half a mile.

    "Oh, wasn't that grand!" murmured Flossie Ford.

    "Perfectly lovely!" added Laura.

    "It's what we wanted," answered Pepper. "Keep it up!" he yelled, and blew his horn with all his might.

    With nine minutes more to play, both elevens went at the game with great vigor. The Dauntless team wanted at least to make a field goal--to tie the score. But Putnam Hall held them back, and two minutes before the whistle blew made another touchdown and kicked the goal. When the game was ended the pigskin was on the Dauntless forty-five-yard line.

    Putnam Hall had won!

    What a cheering followed, and what a tooting of horns and sounding of rattles! The cadets cheered for their opponents and were cheered in return, and then all filed off the field.

    "A dandy game!" cried Pepper to his chums. "Simply great!" And he fairly hugged Jack and Andy.

    "A splendid game," was Mr. Strong's comment.

    "I am proud of our cadets," added Captain Putnam.

    "They are an honor to the school, sir."

    "Yes, Mr. Strong, they are."

    Some of the boys remained in Cedarville for the rest of the afternoon. As soon as Jack and Andy had put aside their football outfits, they joined Pepper and the Ford girls, and all went to meet Mr. Rossmore Ford, who had just arrived in his carriage.

    "I am sorry I missed the game," said the rich gentleman. "It must have been fine."

    "Oh, papa, it was lovely!" cried Laura.

    "I was so pleased to see Putnam Hall win!" added Flossie.

    "Were you?" said Mr. Ford, and laughed good-naturedly. "Now, I imagined you came to encourage the Dauntless boys."

    "Papa, you know better!" cried both girls.

    "How would you young gentlemen like to drive home with us and dine at the Lodge?" asked the gentleman.

    "Oh, yes, come!" cried Flossie.

    "Do!" urged Laura.

    "Well, I don't know," answered Jack, slowly. "The eleven is going to celebrate to-night, and they want us. Otherwise, I'd like it very much."

    "Then come some other time," answered Rossmore Ford.

    "Thank you, we will," answered Andy; and after a few words more the Fords drove off and the cadets walked away to join their fellows.

    It was a jolly crowd that returned to Putnam Hall late that afternoon, and Captain Putnam was willing that they should have all the sport the rules of the institution permitted.

    "Bonfires to-night!" cried Andy.

    "Biggest ever!" returned Pepper. "I've got a surprise."

    "What is it, Pep?" asked several in a chorus.

    "If I tell you, will you keep it to yourselves?"

    "Sure!" was the ready answer.

    "Well, you saw those tar-roofers at work on the new top of the dock at Cedarville?"

    "Yes."

    "I bought three empty tar-barrels from the foreman. He is going to leave them in the woods yonder for me at seven o'clock. They'll make the finest bonfires you ever saw."

    "That's the cheese!" cried Dale, slangily. "Do you know what we can do? Place one barrel on top of another and touch them off. They'll make the greatest blaze you ever heard of."

    "But mum's the word until the right time comes," warned Pepper. And then the crowd dispersed for the evening drill.

    Two boys had been listening to the talk from behind a nearby clump of bushes. They were Reff Ritter and Gus Coulter.

    Neither of the cronies had gone to the football game, having preferred to walk to a cabin in the woods, where they could smoke and play cards. The victory of Jack and his friends had put them in a particularly bad humor.

    "I suppose they expect a great celebration with those tar-barrels," muttered Coulter. "Say, I tell you what let's do!" he cried. "Let us sneak to the woods before they arrive and roll the barrels down to the lake!"

    "I'll do it," answered Reff Ritter. "Anything to put a damper on that celebration."

    "Well, water will dampen the tar-barrels," added Coulter, grimly.
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