Athletics

photo by Sarah Janes     A record crowd, tens of thousands of whom were clad in McMaster maroon and grey, rocked Rogers Centre during Vanier Cup 2012.
November 23, 2012

Laval takes rematch, defeats Marauders in Vanier Cup

By Wade Hemsworth

TORONTO -- McMaster’s football Marauders won the first half, but could not take the game, losing Friday’s Vanier Cup rematch with the Laval Rouge et Or by a score of 37-14 before a record-setting championship crowd of 37,098 at the Rogers Centre.

The Marauders could not dampen the dominant rushing performance of Laval running back Maxime Boutin, who rushed for 253 yards, nor could McMaster muster enough offence to overcome the Laval juggernaut.

The victory gives Laval revenge for last year’s double-overtime loss to McMaster, and marks the seventh Vanier Cup for the Quebec powerhouse. The win makes Laval the most successful football team in Vanier Cup history and sets up a potential tie-breaker, should the two teams meet again in 2013.

Boutin, who racked up 287 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns , was named the game’s most outstanding player.

McMaster had finished the first half ahead 14-12, after scoring two quick touchdowns late in the second quarter. The team that had set a CIS record of 21 straight wins seemed to have found its groove.

But the Marauders’ momentum soon faded, with Laval emerging from the halftime break to score 25 unanswered points, and McMaster’s star quarterback Kyle Quinlan left frustrated and often on the turf.

The game had opened with a stalemate that saw both teams struggling to get past midfield, trading punts in a match that remained scoreless through nearly 20 minutes of play before Laval quarterback Tristan Grenon hit Matthew Norzil with a 28-yard touchdown pass.

The opening score hushed the once roaring crowd, composed predominantly of McMaster supporters who had come down the highway from Hamilton by car, in chartered buses, on crowded GO trains and even limousines. The Rogers Centre stands were a swirl of maroon and grey.

The attendance beat the previous Vanier record crowd of 32,847, set in 1989.

Laval would notch another two points when McMaster conceded a safety, after starting at its own 1-yard line, followed by a sack and a long pass to Mike DiCroce that the star receiver could not quite manage to reel in before crashing to the ground.

Laval seemed to be building a cushion after kicker Boris Bede hit a 23-yard field goal that pushed the score to 12-0. With time running out on the first half, the huge crowd grew quieter still.

But then Quinlan, fresh from winning the Hec Crighton Trophy the night before, engineered a quick 75-yard drive that ended with him crashing the final yard into the end zone. There were less than two minutes remaining in the half.

Laval went two and out to put the ball back in McMaster’s hands deep in Marauder territory, with just 53 seconds left to halftime. Quinlan was sacked on McMaster’s own 9-yard-line on the first play of the series, but roared back with a 42-yard pass to Ben O’Connor, who carried the ball almost to midfield.

Dahlin Brooks, the quarterback’s next target, grabbed a bomb and ran with it for a total of 59 yards, scoring a touchdown that gave McMaster the lead.

Laval ran out of time on a late end-zone strike, and the game broke with McMaster up 14-12.

Then, just as the 2011 championship had turned out to be a game of two remarkably different halves, so did the 2012 game, only this time the Marauders could not mount a late rally to win.

Laval started piling up the points with an 87-yard drive that saw Boutin taking a bow in the end zone little more than three minutes  into the third quarter, putting the Rouge et Or ahead  19-14.

McMaster was forced to punt on its opening series when the sturdy Quinlan was leveled by a punishing hit after scrambling out of the pocket. His next series, starting way back at McMaster’s own 10-yard line,  ended in similar style with him getting up after a second-down sack, and the Marauders gave up a safety, making the score 21-14.

Laval took the ball at its own 25 after McMaster’s next punt, and Boutin broke free for an astonishing 84-yard touchdown run, the third-longest in the history of the Cup, putting his team up by two full scores, 28-14.

The Rouge et Or kept coming, managing the ball well, chewing up yardage and clock time and scoring three more field goals to snuff the Marauders’ hopes for a repeat, ultimately sealing the game at 37-14.