TORONTO - They took their revenge in brutal fashion.
The Laval Rouge et Or has spent the year waiting for a chance to exact its revenge on McMaster for the Marauders’ victory in the 2011 Vanier Cup at Vancouver.
When the chance came Friday in the 2012 Vanier Cup, Laval didn’t mess up the opportunity.
It physically and mentally beat up on the Marauders 37-14 in front of a record Vanier Cup crowd of 37,098 at the Rogers Centre.
When it was over, there was no question which was the best team in the country. The win broke McMaster’s Canadian university football winning streak at 21 and gave the Rouge et Or its record seventh Canadian university championship.
“We were ready. We’ve been getting ready for a year,” said Laval offensive lineman Danny Groulx. “We’ve prepared physically and mentally to play them.
“We’re the crew, man. We’re the crew. We stick together. We’re close.”
It looked for a half as if the game would be a replay of the wickedly entertaining double-overtime 41-38 win for McMaster a year ago.
Only in Canadian university football can you see this type of craziness.
With Laval up 12-0 and in complete control of the game, Hec Crighton Trophy winner Kyle Quinlan went to work with his arm and his legs. The Mac quarterback orchestrated a drive that ended with his one-yard touchdown sneak.
The touchdown energized the pro-McMaster crowd and the Marauders.
After stopping Laval again, Quinlan came out from deep in his own zone, hitting Ben O’Connor for 42 yards. With less than 40 seconds on the clock, he found Dahlin Brooks over the middle. Brooks broke free and went 59 yards for the score.
With McMaster up 14-12 and only 29 seconds left in the half, most people expected Laval QB Tristan Grenon to simply sit on the ball. Instead, he rifled a pass to S. J. Haidara, who sped down the sideline for 75 yards before getting tackled at the three yard-line with 13 seconds left.
But the fun wasn’t done, yet. Laval coach Glen Constantin wanted to take a crack at the touchdown. So, Grenon floated a pass to Matthew Norzil that was incomplete but the play took too long and the half ended.
One would expect that would have deflated the Rouge et Or. Instead, it seemed to energize them.
Maxime Boutin capped the first drive of the second half with an 11-yard TD run. Later in the third quarter, he scored on an 84-yard dash that went from sideline to sideline and broke the game open.
Laval needed to run to be successful and run it did. Boutin, who came in as a starter only two games ago, ran for 258 yards on 24 carries, two yards short of the Vanier Cup record.
“You can see that the (offensive line), with our third running back, is going well. I just love my teammates man,” Groulx said.
Laval dominated the McMaster defensive line just as its defensive line controlled the McMaster offensive line, hammering Quinlan at every opportunity and making life miserable for him.
“You have to win one-on-one battles and we didn’t do it,” said a stunned-looking Marauder linebacker Aram Eisho. “I needed to play better. I needed to make more plays. As a team we needed to make more plays. This is hard to take.”
Eisho was one of the few Marauders who would talk to the media. Quinlan refused.
It was that kind of game for the defending Vanier Cup champions. From the quarterback on out, they were simply outplayed in all aspects of the game.
Quinlan wound up with 335 yards passing but much of that was when the game was out of reach.
McMaster had only 75 yards rushing.
“Personally I worked really hard so if I got this opportunity I wouldn’t miss it,” said Grenon. “As a team we worked really hard.
“It’s what makes these games special.”
Unlike a year ago when both teams did something special, on this night only one team was able to repeat that performance.