Quarterback Grant White '14 snapped the ball and stepped back into the pocket. From the edges, he could see the Williams pass rushers coming off his offensive line.

As the clock was winding down, White looked downfield to his wide receivers—captain Pat Noone '12 and Nick Goldin '13—and running back Zach Donnarumma '14 sprinting towards the end zone.

White was out of time and he knew it. Just as he was about to be brought down, White loaded up and let the football fly. As the ball spiraled through the air, the 1,002 fans in the bleachers of Whittier Field held their breath as a clutter of black receivers and purple defensive backs scrambled around the end zone, desperately trying to get the best position on the ball.

A flurry of hands reached for it, but only one player managed to get a handhold on the ball.

Sadly, it was Williams' wide receiver Darren Hartwell, who had been kept mostly out of the offensive game. Hartwell made the critical interception and sealed the win for the Ephs. The final score was defending NESCAC champion Williams 24, Bowdoin 21.

Despite the loss, Head Coach Dave Caputi's words for his team after the game would not surprise anyone who attended the game.

"We should've won the game," he said with absolute certainty.

"The team played unbelievably," added Donnarumma. "Effort-wise, it was 110 percent; we left everything on the field. I wish we could've made a few more plays to come away with the win."

Despite their overall effort, Caputi was unimpressed with his players' tentative performance early on; he said the Polar Bears were "sleepwalking" in the first quarter.

Williams was able to burst out of the gate and grab an early 14-0 lead. But, the Polar Bears' defense quickly regrouped and shut down Williams' offense, allowing just 11 more points in the rest of the game, with none in the second half.

Despite the effort, Bowdoin's defense struggled early against the run and let up three rushing touchdowns as a result of missed assignments both on the line and in coverage.

Bowdoin's inordinate amount of penalties also cost the team: 11 penalties totaled 95 yards.

"It was very uncharacteristic of us," said Caputi, whose past teams have had years where they committed fewer than 200 yards in penalties for the entire season.

"We made mistakes," said captain linebacker Ian Vieira '12.

"I knew going into the game we had the talent to play with anybody, and we proved that in the game," he added.

The team employed new defensive schemes in the week leading up to the game, which allowed for a mix of different looks on the defensive line. This played a big part in Bowdoin's ability to consistently get into Williams' backfield and put pressure on Eph quarterback Chris Cleary.

"In the past [the linemen] have had to take on two gaps, but this year everyone has one gap, one responsibility. It just confuses the other team's offense because of how much we move between the offensive line and the linebackers," said defensive back Griffin Cardew '14.

This pressure forced Williams to punt in several consecutive drives in the second half. With Williams unable to convert on its third downs, Bowdoin was able to rally and bring the score within three late in the third quarter.

The Polar Bear's offense also thrived, racking up 376 total yards. Donnarumma led the way with 108 rushing yards and two touchdowns, and the Polar Bears' offensive line dominated Williams' defensive linemen.

White, who went 19-of-34 for 247 yards and a touchdown, showed great poise in the pocket and was able to use his feet and scramble to gain critical first downs.

Also notable was Bowdoin's second offensive snap of the game, in which Noone became the school's all-time leader in receiving yards. For Noone, the milestone marks just another chapter in his stellar career.

"I had the opportunity to play against him in high school," said Vieira of Noone. "He brings a great work ethic to this team and a winning attitude."

"Patrick is a very conscientious, hardworking football player...everything he gets, he earns," added Caputi.

While both Caputi and several of his players insist that they did not send a definitive warning message to other teams in the league, there is no doubt that NESCAC opponents have been put on notice.

This is not the same team that dropped five of its first six games last season. Even as Williams walked off the field in victory, the fans at Whittier Field stood as one to applaud the players' effort.

Everyone knew what everyone else was thinking, and now, believing.

Bowdoin is for real this season, and Amherst, coming off a 20-7 win over Bates, is going to have a tough matchup against the team tomorrow.