Meantime, the Twentieth supporters, lined along either edge, became more and more vociferous as they began to see that their men were getting the game well into their own hands. That steady, cool, systematic play of man to man was something quite new to those accustomed to the old style of game, and aroused the greatest enthusiasm.
Gradually the Front were forced to fall back into their territory, and to play upon the defensive, while the master and Johnnie Big Duncan, moving up toward the center, kept their forward line so strongly supported, and checked so effectually any attempts to break through, that thick and fast the shots fell upon the enemy's goal.
There remained only fifteen minutes to play. The hard pace was beginning to tell upon the big men, and the inevitable reaction following their unwise "celebrating" began to show itself in their stale and spiritless play. On the other hand, the Twentieth were as fresh as ever, and pressed the game with greater spirit every moment.
"Play out toward the side," urged Dan, despairing of victory, but determined to avert defeat, and at every opportunity the ball was knocked out of play. But like wolves the Twentieth forwards were upon the ball, striving to keep it in play, and steadily forcing it toward the enemy's goal.
Dan became desperate. He was wet with perspiration, and his breath was coming in hard gasps. He looked at his team. The little Reds were fit enough, but the others were jaded and pumped out. Behind him stood Jimmie Ben, savage, wet, and weary.
At one of the pauses, when the ball was out of play, Dan dropped on his knee.
"Hold on there a minute," he cried; "I want to fix this skate of mine."
Very deliberately he removed his strap, readjusted his skate, and began slowly to set the strap in place again.