Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope you all have a wonderful day. I also hope you enjoy the latest chapter of the blog hopping story written by Matticus and myself.
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Coach Sprout called the rest of the offense over and told them the play that they were going to run. This time around, they’d have both of their running backs on the field at the same time. It was just one more little thing that Sprout was doing to try to confuse the defense. They’d have to prepare for the possibility of either of them getting the ball, and that’s even if it was a running play to begin with.
The Honor Guard blew their whistles, indicating that the timeout was over. Plex led his team out onto the field and quickly got them lined up. He wanted to hike the ball as soon as possible so the defenders didn’t get much of a chance to react to how they had set up their formation. Another whistle blew and time began to count down once more towards the end of the game. Plex took just a moment to look over the defense before calling for the ball to be hiked.
On his right, Glavven ran forward and held his hands up to receive the football. Plex didn’t give it to him. Instead, he handed it to Meel, who was following behind. Glavven ran into a pair of defenders as if he had the ball. That took them both out of the play and left an opening for the smaller Meel to get through. Meel ducked under one defensive lineman’s arm as he ran untouched into the hole.
There was a lot of open field in front of him. In fact, the only defender standing between Meel and the goal line was Gilania. For what seemed like the hundredth time during the game, Plex found himself torn. He was torn between his desire to see his sister do well and his need for his team to win. Plex knew his team needed these points to put the game almost completely out of reach.
He just hoped it didn’t come at his sister’s expense.
Meel cut left for a step and quickly cut back right with the next, hoping to juke his way past her. Gilania didn’t fall for it. She stayed in position between him and the end zone. With only a few yards left until he reached her, Meel lowered his shoulder. There weren’t many people that Meel would be able to run over, but with the momentum that he had, Gilania might be one of them. She braced for the impact.
The two of them hit in a collision that could be heard throughout the entire arena. Gilania started falling backwards, but she had her arms wrapped tightly around Meel. She was pulling him down with her. His momentum was still carrying him toward the goal line. There was a chance he would cross it before he hit the ground. It would be close.
Two more steps put them at the five yard line. Meel was going down quickly. He wrestled the ball out from between them and reached it out towards the goal line. He gave one last heave with his legs and fell forward.
Plex’s view was obscured by the crash of players who had finally caught up to the play, jumping on top of Meel and Gilania either in attempt to keep the player from crossing the line or trying to help him in his effort. The whole mess crunched together in a writhing pile of arms and legs.
Whistles blew. The honor guard rushed forward to help untangle players and try to determine where the ball ended up. Plex moved forward a few yards hoping to get glimpse of how Meel and Gilania had done. Had Meel gotten the ball across the line? Had Gilania stopped him? Had she been hurt at the bottom of the pile?
The process of getting to the bottom seemed to take much longer than it should. There seemed to be a struggle going on still. Plex saw that Meel still had a hold of the ball, and it looked like it was on the line so it should be a touchdown but Gilania had somehow gotten one of her hands on the ball too and was trying to push it backwards. From his angle Plex couldn’t be sure what the referees were going to decide. He didn’t want to get any closer though.
A moment later it was just down to Meel and Gilania. One of the honor guard pulled the ball free while Meel and Gilania came up pushing and shoving. Plex couldn’t hear what was being said clearly but was close enough to know that words were being exchanged.
Another series of whistles and one of the honor guard stepped between the two players. The guard flicked his head towards the dragon and Meel and Gilania immediately settled down. Only then did Plex realize he’d been clenching his fists and he forced his hands to relax, though his heart still raced.
With the playes all separated, the honor guard got together for a moment and then they placed the football on the goal line and signaled a touchdown. While Meel celebrated with his teammates, Gilania uttered curses in elven, just loud enough for Plex and some of the players around her to hear. Her own teammates escorted her off the field before she got into trouble.
Plex shook his head. What was she thinking? But the answer was obvious. Plex glanced first at the game clock and then at Lavalandinarial. The dragon seemed bored. A small tendril of smoke drifted up from one nostril. Its mouth was closed in neither a smile or a snarl and its eyelids were half closed. Was the beast losing interest in the game?
As they made their way to the sideline, Plex congratulated Meel on the touchdown and Glavven for creating the hole. Glavven was worse for the wear. The play had caused his injury to flare up and the healer was working with him again.
Glavven nodded that he was but said nothing in response. The minotaur’s jaws were clenched tightly. His teammate was too proud to answer for fear the pain he was in would be obvious in his voice.
Plex moved away and scanned the far sideline for his sister. Gilania was being talked to by her coach. She seemed upset and it hurt Plex to see her that way. There was nothing he could do to help, though.
A few seconds later and the point after attempt was converted. Gilania’s team was far behind now, exactly what Plex hadn’t wanted, and the two minute warning was less than a minute away. Plex could only hope that Gilania’s team was able to move down the field and cut into the lead. He just hoped that they would do it as time expired so there would be no chance for a miracle play. Then again, with how sporadic the dragon was, maybe that was her plan all along. Maybe she wanted the game to appear out of reach before she helped the losing team come back.
Plex looked up at the dragon. Lavalandinarial was staring right back at him, mimicking Coach Sprout’s knowing smile. Had she been able to read his mind? Did she know what he had been thinking? She had to. Otherwise, there was no reason for her to look at him like that.
He tore his eyes away from Lavalandinarial and looked at the scoreboard. What he saw didn’t make sense. The score was forty-two to thirty-three, a nine point difference. A few moments ago, that seemed like an insurmountable lead. Plex knew that it wasn’t. Three minutes was more than enough time for Gilania’s team to easily drive the ball down the field, score a touchdown, kick the extra point, attempt and recover an onside kick, and get into a position to kick the winning field goal.
Walking up to Coach Sprout, he asked, “Why did we kick the extra point instead of going for two there?”
The gnome’s expression made it clear that he thought Plex’s question was dumb. Coach Sprout pointed to the scoreboard and was about to say something when his eyes followed his finger. Sprout’s jaw dropped. “I don’t know,” the gnome finally said. Confusion washed over his face. “I would have sworn we were winning by more than that.”
Plex was careful to keep the curses he wanted to yell out of his thoughts. The dragon could obviously read his mind and he didn’t want to give her any reason to hurt him again. Not that she needed a reason. Still, it was best to be as cautious as possible when it came to Lavalandinarial.
He watched helplessly as the game went on. His team did a good job covering the kickoff. They held Gilania’s team to a three yard gain on first down and an incompletion on second. With it being third and seven, with only seconds to go until the two minute warning, everyone in the stadium thought that it was going to be a passing play.
That’s why it worked so well when the other team ran the ball.
The quarterback dropped back like he was going to pass. The offensive line dropped back like they were pass blocking. The wide receivers ran their routes like normal. At first, it appeared as if the running back was staying in the backfield as an extra blocker. Then, he slid up next to the quarterback, grabbed the ball, and ran through a hole in the offensive line. There was plenty of room in front and Plex wondered if anyone would be able to stop the running back before he got to the end zone.