Photo credit John Sokolowski
TORONTO (CIS) – Led by a remarkable performance by running back Maxime Boutin, the Laval University Rouge et Or defeated the McMaster Marauders 37-14 in the 48th Vanier Cup championship game to set a new all-time mark with their seventh CIS football title before a record crowd of 37,098 at Rogers Centre, Friday night.
With the triumph, the powerhouse from Quebec City, which wraps up the 2012 schedule with a 12-1 overall record, not only made history, it also avenged a heartbreaking 41-38 overtime loss against the Marauders (11-1) in last year’s national final in Vancouver. That defeat marked the first setback for the Rouge et Or at the Vanier Cup following victories in 1999, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010.
Boutin, a sophomore from Quebec City, was the undisputed star of the evening. The 5-foot-9, 185-pound speedster claimed the Ted Morris Memorial Trophy as the game MVP thanks to his 253 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries and 287 all-purpose yards, a tally that also included a 22-yard reception and 12 yards on three punt returns. His 253 yards on the ground are the second highest total in Vanier Cup history, while his all-purpose yardage ranks third all-time.
Boutin eclipsed his personal best of 213 rushing yards set last Saturday in the Uteck Bowl, when he also earned MVP honours.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling. We’ve been dreaming about this game for a year,” said Boutin, who scored on an 11-yard run early in the third quarter to give his team a 19-14 lead, and again on a spectacular 84-yard scamper with four minutes left in the third stanza, a play that increased Laval’s advantage to 28-14. “My offensive line was once again sensational. They deserve all the credit.”
The 48th edition of the CIS fall classic will be remembered for many record-setting reasons.
Prior to the match-up, Laval was tied with the Western Mustangs for most banners, with six. The Rouge et Or’s exploit is even more remarkable considering they played their first official season in 1996, while Western is one of the oldest programs in the country.
As for the massive crowd that went through the turnstiles of the downtown Toronto stadium, it easily shattered the previous Vanier Cup standard of 32,847 established back in 1989, which marked the first CIS final held at Rogers Centre (then SkyDome).
Finally, the Rouge et Or will leave the Queen City with three other Vanier Cup records, including most rushing yards (373) and quarterback sacks (7) in a single game by a team, as well as a sixth triumph as a head coach for Glen Constantin, who simply added to his own mark. Laval’s 604 yards of total offence are also the fourth highest total in game history but the best ever for a CIS final decided in regulation.
While Boutin led the way on offence for the winners, rush end Arnaud Gascon-Nadon was the cornerstone of the defensive unit and merited the Bruce Coulter Award for his three solo and 3.5 total tackles, including a half sack.
“This is the reason I came back and didn’t go pro. We never accepted last year’s defeat. We badly wanted this seventh banner to become the most decorated program in history,” said the 6-foot-3, 255-pound Montreal native, who was drafted by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats last spring.
Constantin didn’t want to talk about revenge and preferred to focus on his team’s character.
“This is a proud group and last year’s loss was still fresh in their minds. The guys showed great character tonight,” said the RSEQ coach of the year, whose squad put an end to the Marauders’ CIS-record streak of 21 straight overall wins. “It was a complete team effort. We had an excellent week of preparation and all we needed to do was execute for 60 minutes.”
After allowing 482 passing yards to standout quarterback Kyle Quinlan in the 2011 final, the Rouge et Or defence was able to keep the reigning Hec Crighton Trophy winner in check for most of the evening. The talented pivot from South Woodslee, Ont., completed 25 of 40 passes for 335 yards and a touchdown but was intercepted twice and only got into a rhythm during back-to-back scoring drives in the final moments of the opening half. Feared as much for his mobility as for the strength of his arm, Quinlan was held to 55 rushing yards on seven carries, about half of his tally from a year ago (106 yards on 14 rushes).
“It’s a tough one to swallow. We hadn’t lost all season. We were confident going in. Hats off to Laval. They’re a fantastic team,” said Quinlan, who scored his team’s first major on a one-yard run late in the second quarter.
“We’ll have to watch some film and analyze the game to really comprehend what went wrong. But right now, we need to congratulate our opponents. Tonight, they were the better team,” said McMaster sideline boss Stefan Ptaszek, who was named CIS coach of the year on Wednesday.
Following a scoreless first quarter, the Rouge et Or jumped to a 12-0 advantage in the second stanza thanks to a 28-yard pass from Tristan Grenon to Matthew Norzil (4:02), a safety touch (9:37) and a Boris Bede field goal from 22 yards out (11:57).
Just when it looked like Laval would go back to the locker room with the lead, the Marauders responded with two majors in a span of 72 seconds on Quinlan’s one-yard run (13:19) and a 59-yard pass to Dalhin Brooks (14:31).
Far from being dazed by the disappointing end to the first half, the Quebec champions completely dominated after the break and all but put the game out of reach in the third period with 19 unanswered points.
Boutin restored Laval’s lead 3:15 into the second half when his 11-yard rush made it 19-14. Following another safety touch, Boutin’s 84-yard score and a 37-yard Bede field goal pushed the Rouge et Or’s cushion to 31-14 after 45 minutes of action.
Bede rounded out the scoring in the fourth splitting the uprights from 20 and 31 yards away.
Grenon didn’t need to be spectacular in the win and was an efficient 11-of-25 for 234 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. His favourite targets were Junior Seydou Haïdara, with 106 yards on three catches, and Norzil, who hauled in four balls for 66 yards.
On defence, linebacker Frédéric Plesius, who was named the country’s top defensive player on Thursday night, formed a formidable duo with Gascon-Nadon and racked up a pair of sacks. Cornerback Dominique Noël tallied a team-high seven tackles and also had an interception.
For the Marauders, wideout Michael DiCroce was productive in the losing cause with nine receptions for 90 yards, while linebacker Aram Eisho led the defensive effort with nine tackles. McMaster was outgained 604 total yards to 376.
Thanks to their dominating ground game, the Rouge et Or held the ball for over 34 minutes (34:12) and were able to keep Quinlan on the sidelines. A year ago in Vancouver, McMaster controlled the ball for 34:22.
GAME NOTES: The Vanier Cup returned to Rogers Centre for the first time since 2007, when a crowd of 26,787 (the eighth largest in game history) took in the CIS final... The previous Vanier Cup record of 364 rushing yards by a team had been set by UBC back in 1982... The old mark of 586 total yards of offence by a team in a CIS final decided in regulation had been established by Calgary in 1983... The only player who had more rushing yards than Boutin in a single Vanier Cup was Calgary’s Tim Petros, who finished the 1983 championship match with 260 yards on 25 carries... The two best all-purpose tallies in CIS history belong to Petros (405 yards in 1983) and Saskatchewan’s Morrie Norsten (376 in 1994)... McMaster hadn’t lost a game since Week 2 of the 2011 regular schedule, when the Marauders dropped a 48-21 decision to Western, on Sept. 10.
LAV 0-12-19-6: 37
McM 0-14-0-0: 14
LAV - TD Norzil 28 pass from Grenon (Bede kick) 4:02
LAV - Safety Touch (Crapigna concedes) 9:37
LAV - FG Bede 22 11:57
McM - TD Quinlan 1 run (Crapigna kick) 13:19
McM - TD Brooks 59 pass from Quinlan (Crapigna kick) 14:31
LAV - TD Boutin 11 run (Bede kick) 3:15
LAV - Safety Touch (Crapigna concedes) 7:45
LAV - TD Boutin 84 run (Bede kick) 10:34
LAV - FG Bede 37 13:39
LAV - FG Bede 20 6:48
LAV - FG Bede 31 10:35