TORONTO — Maxime Boutin rushed for a staggering 253 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries, including an electrifying 84-yard run in the third quarter, as the Laval Rouge et Or defeated the McMaster Marauders 37-14 in the 48th Vanier Cup on Friday night.
Boutin’s rushing total was the second best ever in a Vanier Cup as Laval avenged last year’s thrilling 41-38 double overtime loss to McMaster to win a record seventh Canadian university football title.
The performance earned Boutin the game’s MVP honour.
Tristan Grenon was 11-for-25 passing for 234 yards and a touchdown as the Rouge et Or rolled up 605 yards of total offence and outscored the Marauders 25-0 in the second half to snap McMaster’s CIS-record 21-game winning streak.
Laval’s Seydou Junior Haidara was the top receiver on the night, hauling in three catches for 106 yards.
Hec Crighton Trophy winner Kyle Quinlan threw for 335 yards on 25-for-40 passing and one touchdown in front of a Vanier Cup record crowd of 37,098 at Rogers Centre in his final collegiate game. Quinlan also ran in another score but was intercepted twice.
The turning point came in the third quarter after McMaster scored two quick touchdowns late in the first half to grab a 14-12 lead heading to the locker-room.
Laval took the opening kickoff of the second half and looked to be stopped at midfield, but a Rouge et Or fake punt and an unnecessary roughness penalty brought the offence back on the field at the McMaster 19-yard line.
Boutin then ran in untouched from 11-yards out two plays later as Laval regained the lead at 19-14 and the Rouge et Or stretched their advantage to seven when McMaster conceded its second safety midway though the quarter.
Boutin was at it again with under five minutes to go in the third, taking a handoff from Grenon and weaving his way through the Marauders defence for a stunning 84-yard TD run that silenced the pro-McMaster crowd. Laval’s No. 1 saluted Marauders fans seated behind the end zone for good measure after the third-longest touchdown run in Vanier Cup history.
Boris Bede booted a 37-yard field goal to make the score 31-14 heading to the fourth quarter, before adding kicks from 20 and 31 yards in the final period.
McMaster’s offence, which had its lowest point output of the season, couldn’t get anything going in the second half against a tough Laval defence led by linebacker Frederic Plesius and defensive lineman Arnaud Gascon-Nadon.
Trailing Laval 12-0 late in the first half, Quinlan capped a much-needed six-play, 75-yard drive with a one-yard plunge. The Marauders’ undisputed leader was mobbed by his teammates in front of the McMaster fans seated at the south end of the stadium to make the score 12-7 with 1:41 left in the half.
The momentum shifted further as the Marauders’ defence forced a two-and-out on the ensuing Laval possession.
After a Rouge et Or punt, Quinlan found Ben O’Connor on a 42-yard pass play to get McMaster to its own 51. The fifth-year pivot then hooked up with Dahlin Brooks on a 59-yard catch-and-run TD that sent the McMaster supporters into their second frenzy in just over a minute. The three-play, 96-yard drive that took just 24 seconds gave the Marauders their first lead at 14-12.
After the ensuing kickoff, Grenon hooked up with Haidara on a 75-yard catch and run that brought the Rouge et Or to the McMaster two with 13 seconds left. But after a Grenon incomplete pass, the clock ran out and Laval didn’t get a chance to attempt a short field goal. Rouge et Or head coach Glen Constantin rushed after the officials to complain, but to no avail.
Fans from both teams showed up early, with the smaller Laval contingent doing its best to be heard against the backdrop of a pro-Marauders crowd that also included a rainbow of jersey-clad CFL fans in town for Sunday’s 100th Grey Cup.
McMaster supporters young and old came out in maroon to support the university, whose campus is just 70 kilometres from Rogers Centre.
After a scoreless first quarter, the Rouge et Or took the lead on their first drive of the second as their offence finally found its rhythm on a five-play, 69-yard drive that was capped by a 28-yard touchdown pass by Grenon to Matthew Nozil.
Quinlan got the Marauders to midfield on the next possession but McMaster was forced into its fifth straight punt. Laval also punted on its next possession but a great tackle by Luke Ricard on Joshua Vandeweed pinned McMaster on its one-yard line.
The Laval defence stood tall and forced the Marauders into conceding a safety on third down as the Rouge et Or grabbed a 9-0 lead.
On the ensuing drive, the Rouge et Or’s pounding running attack behind their mammoth offensive line took over but stalled in McMaster territory and had to settle for a 22-yard field goal from Bede before McMaster exploded for two late touchdowns in the half.
Both teams clearly felt some nerves in the first quarter, which saw six punts, an interception and a field goal. Quinlan was picked off on the opening drive by Thomas Girard, who ripped the ball from the arms of McMaster’s Robert Babic at midfield.
Laval could do nothing with the early momentum swing as Grenon, who was off target at times, overthrew receivers on back-to-back plays before the Rouge et Or were forced to punt.
The teams continued to stifle each other on offence, with aggressive play calling on both sides failing to gain much ground. Laval got something going with about five minutes to go in the first quarter, but a dropped pass on second down and a missed 39-yard field goal attempt by Bede left the teams still scoreless.
Notes: The Marauders jumped out to a stunning 23-0 lead on Laval in last year’s final in Vancouver. The Rouge et Or rallied to take a one-point lead in the fourth quarter only to watch McMaster kicker Tyler Crapigna boot the game-winning field goal in the second extra period. … The previous attendance record at a Vanier Cup was set in 1989 when 32,847 fans at Rogers Centre (then SkyDome) watched Western beat Saskatchewan 35-10. … The only four programs to repeat as Vanier Cup champions are Manitoba (1969-1970), Western (1976-1977), Saint Mary’s (2001-2002) and Laval (2003-2004). … The Rouge et Or became just the third team to play in three straight national finals, joining Saint Mary’s (2001-2003) and Saskatchewan (2004-2006). … Laval had the previous record for the longest win streak at 19 straight games between 2004 and 2005.
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