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Football earns first season opener victory since 2009

September 23, 2022

Courtesy of Brian Beard
REAPING THE REWARD: Andre Eden ’24 dodges Hamilton defenders in last Saturday’s game. Eden finished the game with a touchdown and 124 yards on 23 carries in Bowdoin’s 41–14 win. Football plays Williams this Saturday.

The football team (1–0; 1–0 NESCAC) opened its season with a commanding 41–14 victory over Hamilton College last Saturday. The win marked Bowdoin’s first victory in a season opener since they defeated Middlebury College 50–35 in 2009.

In front of a raucous Whittier Field crowd, the Polar Bears took the opening kickoff and marched down the field in eight plays before quarterback Andrew Boel ’24 rumbled into the endzone on a quarterback sneak. On consecutive drives extending into the second quarter, Boel connected with wide receiver Jed Hoggard ’25 for two long touchdowns to increase the Polar Bears’ margin. After a couple defensive stops, running back Andre Eden ’24 rushed in for yet another Bowdoin touchdown to help the team take a 28–0 lead that it never relinquished.

For his performance in the game, Boel took home NESCAC Player of the Week honors. His completion percentage of 85 percent set a school record for the highest of any quarterback attempting 20 or more passes in a game.

Boel attributed his success in the opener to the team’s off-season program.

“No one really sees the work we put in during the winter when we are up at 6 a.m. lifting. I think that’s what really gave us the edge this past week,” Boel said.

Offensively, Bowdoin developed a mantra, “set the pace,” that players credit for helping them push themselves on the field and in the gym. Within the program, “set the pace” means that each player is expected to give 100 percent until they cannot go anymore, at which point a substitute comes in and does the same. It seems as if the idea has already paid its dividends, as Saturday’s win avenges a 17–6 loss to Hamilton and last-place NESCAC finish last year.

“During the pre-season, we all knew that last season was a huge letdown,” said Hoggard. “We were in so many close games that we couldn’t pull out. Going into this season, we just had a completely different mentality. We are not going to let it get close. We are going to blow them out. That’s what we did, and it felt so good. It was rewarding to see all of our hard work from the off-season pay off.”

After an injury prevented him from playing his first year, Hoggard was excited to return to the field for the first time since high school. His energy provided a jolt to the Bowdoin offense that it often lacked last year.

“When we got on the field, I was just so happy to be out there. Having my first two catches be touchdowns was just something out of a movie,” Hoggard said. “I was just so thankful to be out there…The touchdowns were just a bonus.”

The challenge the Polar Bears now face is turning one win into many. Bowdoin’s last winning season was in 2005 when they finished with a record of 6-2. Despite the lack of results it achieved in the last decade, including winning only two combined games in their last five seasons, the team believes that it has the talent to turn the corner.

“We just have to develop a winning culture,” Boel said. “Coach [B.J. Hammer] always preaches that. Clearly, we were dominant this past week, but we have to learn how to do that on a weekly basis. Overcoming that hump will be critical.”

The Polar Bears return to the field in Williamstown on Saturday at 1 p.m. against Williams College (0–1; 0–0 NESCAC). Williams has won its last eight matchups against Bowdoin, including a runaway 28–3 victory last year.

“The goal is 1–0 every single week,” Boel said. “We know Williams is a good team. They are the defending [NESCAC] champions. We’ll be ready when it’s game time.”

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