With the kick-off the enemy's goal was endangered by a fumbled ball, and within three minutes Trench had torn a hole in the defense, through which the Sunrise team were sending Vic Burleigh for a touchdown. The bleachers went wild and the grandstand was almost shipwrecked in the noise.
"Burleigh! Burly! Burlee!" shrieked the yell-leader as Vic leaped over the goal line and the rooters roared:
The Sunrise hope! And that's the dope! Never quails! Never fails! Burleigh! Burly! Burlee!
A difficult kick from a sharp angle sent the ball through the air one inch wide of the goal post, and the bleachers counted five.
And then, came the forward swing again, the struggle for downs, the gain and loss of territory, until Trench, too heavy for speed, failed to break through the interference quickly enough to hold a swift little quarterback, who slipped around the end of the line, and, shaking off the tackles, swooped toward the Sunrise goal. The last defense was thrown headlong, and the field was wide open for the run; and the quarterback was running for the honor of his team, his school, his undying fame in the college world. Three yards to the goal line, and victory would be his. All Lagonda Ledge held its breath as Vic Burleigh tore through a tangle of tackles and sprang forward with long, space-eating bounds. He seemed to leap through ten feet of air, straight over the quarterback's head and land four feet from the goal with the quarterback in his grip, while a Sunrise halfback out beyond him was lying on the lost ball.
The bleachers now went entirely mad, for from the very edge of disaster, the tide of battle was turned into the enemy's territory. Before the Sunrise rooters had time to cease rejoicing, however, the invincible quarterback was away again, and with two guards and a center on top of Burleigh, now the plucky runner broke across the Sunrise line, and a minute later missed a pretty goal. And the opposing bleachers counted five.
The second half of the game was filled with a tense, fruitless strife. Five points to five points, and four minutes of time to play. The struggle had ceased to be a turning of tricks and test of speed. Henceforth, it was man against man, pound for pound. Suddenly, the opposing team braced itself and began a steady drive down the gridiron. With desperate energy, the Sunrise eleven fought for ground, giving way slowly, defending their goal like true Spartans, dying by inches, until only three yards of space were left on which to die. The rooters shrieked, and the girls sang of courage. Then a silence fell. Three yards, and the Sunrise team turned to a rock ledge as invincible as the limestone foundation of their beloved college halls. The center from which all strength radiated was Victor Burleigh. Against him the weight of the line-bucking plunged. If he wavered the line must crumble. The crowd hardly breathed, so tense was the strain. But he did not waver. The ball was lost and the last struggle of the day began. Two minutes more, the score tied, and only one chance was left.
Since the night of the storm, Vic had known little rest. His days had been spent in hard study, or continuous practice on the field; his nights in the sick room. And what was more destructive to strength than all of this was the newness and grief of a blind, overmastering adoration for the one girl of all the school impossible to him. The strain of this day's game, as the strain of all the preparation for it, had fallen upon him, and the half hour in the rotunda had sapped his energy beyond every other force. Love, loss, a reputation attacked, possible expulsion for assaulting a professor, injustice, anger--oh, it was more than a burden of wearied muscles and wracked nerves that he had to lift in these two minutes!