The football team improved to 2–4, its best record since 2015, with a 28–26 win over Wesleyan University (4–2) on Saturday. The heart of Bowdoin’s victory was led by strong performances by special teams and defense, which allowed the team to maintain a 21–14 at the half.
“Special teams and defense killed it all day long and gave the offense really short fields, which we were finally able to convert on in the red zone,” quarterback Andrew Boel ’24 said.
After Wesleyan started the game by marching 77 yards down the field to take a 7–0 lead, Bowdoin answered by converting off of a poor punt by Wesleyan. Four plays later, the Polar Bears also capitalized on a fumbled punt return by the Cardinals.
“In the past, the offense has been struggling finishing drives. This week, we really put it all together and then the offensive line played their best game of the season, which was awesome to see,” Boel said.
Head Coach B.J. Hammer said that many of the game’s most impressive plays were the result of working on specific skills in practice, especially regarding special teams.
“We did a great job covering kickoffs. We obviously recovered two onside kicks, and we worked super hard on that,” Hammer said. “[Our] punt coverage was great because the fumble pressure caused a shank punt. Those are huge plays, but you can win games on special teams.”
The third quarter continued with no progress from either side until Axel Romell ’25 was able to tip a Wesleyan pass, which Max Jacobs ’23 intercepted and then sprinted into the nearby end zone, giving the Polar Bears a 28–14 lead. As a result, Jacobs earned the title of NESCAC Football Defensive Player of the Week on Monday.
“First and foremost, it is definitely Romell who made a great play that set it up for me to just be in the right place at the right time,” Jacobs said. “From there on was a very exciting moment. [It was a] very big moment.”
Hammer echoed Jacob’s sentiment.
“When you score on defense, that’s big, because if you can score on defense, you’re going to be winning a lot of football games,” Hammer said.
With fewer than two minutes remaining in the game, Wesleyan knocked the score back down to 28–26 and attempted to go for a two point conversion to tie the game. However, Bowdoin’s defense was able block the rush attempt and secure the win.
The close ending was nerve-wracking for the team.
“I was so nervous. My stomach was twisted, but the defense got the stop, which was insane. I remember going nuts on the sideline with everybody, so that was a pretty good feeling,” Boel said.
Boel added that the Family Weekend crowd had a huge impact on the game and provided the team with extra motivation.
Hammer credits the win to consistency and a strong starting lineup.
“The guys played consistent football and we didn’t make many mistakes,” Hammer said.
“The two games we’ve won, we have been healthy,” Hammer added. “After game one, we’ve had anywhere from six to eight starters potentially out each week.… On Saturday, we only had two starters that were out. Having healthy guys and having depth made a big difference.”
Looking ahead to the rest of the season, the team is focusing on embracing the challenges that come with more competitive conference play.
“I think the mindset definitely is to go into every week and focus on what’s directly in front of us,” Jacobs said. “This week, especially playing the big dogs in the NESCAC, [we want to] go in there and not treat them like they’re anything different than anyone else.… We just have to keep the same mentality of not backing down from anyone.”
Bowdoin will play Trinity College (6-0) tomorrow in Hartford before traveling to Amherst College (1-5) on November 5.