50th TELUS Vanier Cup: A head-to-head look

MONTREAL – They were conference foes five decades ago and yet the McMaster Marauders and Montreal Carabins never had a chance to battle it out on the football field. The two CIS powerhouses will fix that interesting twist in history on Saturday and will do so on the biggest stage of all: the 50th TELUS Vanier Cup. 

Kickoff for the milestone national championship final is set for 1 p.m. EST at Percival Molson Memorial Stadium.

Coverage on Sportsnet, Sportsnet 360 and Radio-Canada starts with pre-game shows at 12:30 p.m. EST. The game will also be streamed live on the web at CIS-SIC.tv.

The matchup has been almost 50 years in the making.

During the first incarnation of the Carabins (1966-1971), Montreal and McMaster competed in the same league in both 1966 (Ontario Intercollegiate Football Conference) and 1967 (Central Canada Intercollegiate Football Conference) but somehow never crossed paths.

It might not have been a bad thing for the Carabins, who went 1-6 and 3-4 in league play in those two years, respectively, while the Marauders were winning 13 of 14 conference games and made their first Vanier Cup appearance in 1967, losing a 10-9 heartbreaker to Alberta in the first non-invitational national championship.

Fast forward 47 years and both programs are now well established among the CIS elite.

After flirting with national recognition during four straight Yates Cup triumphs from 2000 to 2003, the Marauders finally made it back to the Vanier Cup in 2011, capturing their first-ever national title with a thrilling 41-38 overtime victory against Laval in Vancouver. The following year, McMaster and Laval met again for CIS supremacy in front of a Vanier Cup-record crowd of 37,098 in Toronto, with the Rouge et Or taking the rematch 37-14.   

For their part, the Carabins have been a contender almost from day one since their rebirth in 2002. They went 8-0 in league action in the third campaign of their renaissance in 2004 but had never made it out of the RSEQ before this year due in large part to archrival Laval’s record 11 straight conference titles.

Following a number of close calls in recent years, the Carabins finally solved the Laval puzzle this fall, winning two of three head-to-head confrontations, including the one that mattered most, a nail-biting 12-9 OT victory in the Dunsmore Cup in Quebec City.

McMaster and Montreal both advanced to the TELUS Vanier Cup with national semifinal wins on home turf last weekend, but the Carabins made their fans wait a little longer before they could start celebrating.

In the ArcelorMittal Dofasco Mitchell Bowl at Hamilton, despite a relatively close 24-12 final score, the Marauders seemed in control throughout, holding on to the ball for a whopping 41 minutes, limiting Mount Allison to only 10 first downs and 156 yards of net offence, and sacking Mounties quarterback Brandon Leyh a whopping nine times.

That performance followed another impressive demonstration by the McMaster defence in a 20-15 Yates Cup conquest over Guelph, on Nov. 15, when the Marauders held their OUA rivals to 264 yards on offence and intercepted Gryphons’ quarterbacks on five occasions.

“This was all about our defensive game plan to stop the run, it really allowed us to dial up the pressure on later downs,” said defensive lineman Mark Mackie after the Mitchell Bowl, where he merited Game MVP honours after leading the charge with three sacks. “The way we play defence, it could be any guy who gets the numbers. Today it was my turn, but it’s always a total team effort.”

“Man those kids got after it – the back-end played excellent,” added nine-year head coach Stefan Ptaszek. “As much as you see all those sacks, you didn’t see any receivers running wide open and that makes a head coach very happy.”

In the Uteck Bowl at Montreal, it was a tale of two halves for the Carabins, who proved they could get the job done on offence in the opening 30 minutes, before showcasing their top-notch defence after the halftime break.

Gabriel Cousineau, who established himself as one of the best quarterbacks in the country this season, was on fire in the first half of a 29-26 win over Manitoba, completing 17 of 21 passes for a remarkable 335 yards and two touchdowns before the intermission, including an 89-yard TD pass to speedster Mikhaïl Davidson on Montreal’s second play from scrimmage.

Leading 27-21 at halftime, the Carabins flexed their defensive muscles in the last 30 minutes of the contest but needed one last big play in the final minute to seal the win as the pesky Bisons threatened to ruin the festivities. That play came from all-conference safety Anthony Coady, who stripped quarterback Jordan Yantz of the ball with Manitoba poised to steal the contest from the Montreal 12-yard line and just 37 seconds remaining.

“It’s an amazing feeling. Once again, this was a total team effort,” said Cousineau, who was named Game MVP after he ended up setting a school record with 421 yards through the air. “We weren’t satisfied with our win in the Dunsmore Cup. We have great leadership on this team and we’re hungry for more.”

“We often talk about mental toughness and our players once again today showed what it’s all about,” said four-year Carabins bench boss Danny Maciocia, owner of a pair of Grey Cup rings from his days with the Edmonton Eskimos, including one as a head coach. “We had to talk about things on the defensive side at halftime.”

There is no shortage of interesting battles to keep an eye on in Saturday’s upcoming duel.

At quarterback, Cousineau is on a roll heading into the biggest game of his career, but his counterpart Marshall Ferguson, a fifth-year senior, has the experience of two Vanier Cup finals as a backup to Hec Crighton Trophy winner Kyle Quinlan. Ferguson did see the field in Mac’s 2011 triumph in Vancouver, completing his only pass for a 14-yard gain.

On the ground, the Marauders might have the edge after racking up 706 rushing yards in their first three playoff outings. Chris Pezzetta was a force in both the OUA semi and the final, rushing for 143 and 144 yards, respectively. When Pezzetta went down with an injury early in the Mitchell Bowl, Wayne Moore took over and was a workhorse against Mt. A, finishing with 146 yards on 30 carries.

Defensively, the uncontested leader of the Carabins is linebacker Byron Archambault, the RSEQ nominee for the Presidents’ Trophy and a top prospect for the 2015 CFL draft. Archambault, who had a key sack in overtime to force Laval into a long (missed) field-goal attempt in the Dunsmore Cup, was his dominant self in the Uteck Bowl with a game-high 7.5 tackles, two forced fumble and the game-winning fumble recovery following Anthony Coady’s heroics in final minute.

The Marauders respond on defence with defensive back Joey “Mr. Playoffs” Cupido, who had two of his team’s five interceptions in the Yates Cup against Guelph and has a ridiculous 14 picks in 15 career post-season games. The fifth-year senior will be looking for his first Vanier Cup interception on Saturday after being blanked in that department in 2011 and 2012.

The stage is set.

Will the Marauders establish themselves as a mini-dynasty with a second Vanier Cup victory in three years?

Or will the Carabins capture their first national title and become the third program in CIS history to claim the Vanier Cup in its own city, a feat only accomplished by Toronto (1965, 1993) and Laval (2010, 2013)?

The answer to follow on Saturday.

 

50th TELUS VANIER CUP: A LOOK AT THE CONTENDERS

 

When: Saturday, Nov. 29, 1 p.m. EST
Where: Percival Molson Memorial Stadium, Montreal
Who: Montreal Carabins (10-1) vs. McMaster Marauders (10-1)
TV: Sportsnet, Sportsnet 360 & Radio-Canada (pre-game shows at 12:30 p.m.)

Web: CIS-SIC.tv
Radio: 98,5 fm (Montreal), CHML (Hamilton)

 

UNIVERSITY OF MONTREAL CARABINS (RSEQ & Uteck Bowl champions)

2014 season summary
Overall record: 10-1
Regular season record: 7-1
Regular season standing: 2nd
Playoff record: 3-0
Top 10 final ranking (Nov. 4): No. 2
Top 10 best ranking: No. 2 (poll #10)
Top 10 lowest ranking: No. 5 (polls #2 to 7)

Top 10 number of weeks ranked (10 polls): 10

Regular season offence points (33.9 ppg): 2nd RSEQ / 9th CIS

Regular season offence total yards (448.9 ypg): 3rd RSEQ / 15th CIS

Regular season offence passing (312.5 ypg): 2nd RSEQ / 6th CIS

Regular season offence rushing (136.4 ypg): 4th RSEQ / 19th CIS

Regular season defence points (12.5 ppg): 2nd RSEQ / 3rd CIS

Regular season defence total yards (301.6 ypg): 2nd RSEQ / 2nd CIS

Regular season defence passing (183.4 ypg): 1st RSEQ / 1st CIS

Regular season defence rushing (118.2 ypg): 3rd RSEQ / 6th CIS

 

2014 results

Sept. 6 (away): Laval 40, Montreal 13

Sept. 12 (home): Montreal 41, Bishop’s 7

Sept. 19 (home): Montreal 43, McGill 17

Sept. 27 (away): Montreal 47, StFX 0

Oct. 4 (home): Montreal 22, Sherbrooke 16

Oct. 11 (away): Montreal 36, Concordia 3

Oct. 25 (away): Montreal 56, Bishop’s 8

Nov. 1 (home): Montreal 13, Laval 9

Nov. 8 (home): Montreal 40, Sherbrooke 13 (RSEQ semifinal)

Nov. 15 (away): Montreal 12, Laval 9 OT (Dunsmore Cup)

Nov. 22 (home): Montreal 29, Manitoba 26 (Uteck Bowl)


2014 RSEQ individual honours

Major awards: Byron Archambault (defensive MVP), Alexandre Laganière (Russ Jackson Award nominee)

All-stars offence: Gabriel Cousineau (QB), Mikhaïl Davidson (IR), Philip Enchill (IR), Régis Cibasu (WR), Jean-Christophe Labrecque (C),

All-stars defence: Jean-Samuel Blanc (DE), Mathieu Girard (DT), Byron Archambault (LB), Anthony Coady (S)

All-stars special teams: Mikhaïl Davidson (RET)


All-time head-to-head vs. McMaster
Overall record: 0-0


Vanier Cup history
All-time record: 0-0

Head coach: Danny Maciocia
Season: 4th
Career regular season record: 26-8 (.765)
Career playoff record: 5-3 (.625)
Career overall record (season & playoffs): 31-11 (.738)
Career overall record vs. McMaster: 0-0
Vanier Cup record: 0-0
Vanier Cup wins: –
Vanier Cup losses: –

 

McMASTER UNIVERSITY MARAUDERS (OUA & Mitchell Bowl champions)

2014 season summary
Overall record: 10-1
Regular season record: 7-1
Regular season standing: 1st
Playoff record: 3-0
Top 10 final ranking (Nov. 4): No. 3
Top 10 best ranking: No. 3 (polls #6, 7, 8, 10)
Top 10 lowest ranking: No. 5 (poll #1)

Top 10 number of weeks ranked (10 polls): 10

Regular season offence points (36.4 ppg): 3rd OUA / 5th CIS
Regular season offence total yards (482.2 ypg): 5th OUA / 8th CIS

Regular season offence passing (316.1 ypg): 2nd OUA / 5th CIS

Regular season offence rushing (166.1 ypg): 8th OUA / 12th CIS

Regular season defence points (17.8 ppg): 1st OUA / 5th CIS

Regular season defence total yards (333.5 ypg): 1st OUA / 4th CIS

Regular season defence passing (201.4 ypg): 2nd OUA / 6th CIS

Regular season defence rushing (132.1 ypg): 2nd OUA / 7th CIS

 

2014 results

Sept. 1 (home): McMaster 34, Guelph 27 OT

Sept. 6 (away): McMaster 66, Waterloo 0

Sept. 13 (home): McMaster 37, Carleton 17

Sept. 20 (away): McMaster 49, York 2

Sept. 27 (home): McMaster 28, Queen’s 19

Oct. 4 (away): McMaster 32, Western 29

Oct. 18 (home): McMaster 27, Laurier 10

Oct. 25 (away): Ottawa 38, McMaster 18

Nov. 8 (home): McMaster 42, Ottawa 31 (OUA semifinal)

Nov. 15 (home): McMaster 20, Guelph 15 (Yates Cup)

Nov. 22 (home): McMaster 24, Mount Allison 12 (Mitchell Bowl)


2014 OUA individual honours
Major awards: Nick Shortill (defensive MVP), Daniel Petermann (rookie), Adam Dickson (Russ Jackson Award nominee), Stefan Ptaszek (coach)
All-stars offence (First Team): Daniel Vandervoort (WR)
All-stars defence (First team): Nick Shortill (LB), Joey Cupido (CB)

All-stars special teams (First Team): Tyler Crapigna (PK)

All-stars offence (Second Team): Zach Intzandt (G), Sean Smith (OT)
All-stars defence (Second Team): Mike Kashak (DE), Scott Martin (DB)
All-stars special teams (Second Team): None

All-time head-to-head vs. Montreal
Overall record: 0-0

Vanier Cup history

All-time record: 1-2

 

2012 (Rogers Centre, Toronto): 37-14 loss vs. Laval 

2011 (BC Place Stadium, Vancouver): 41-38 OT win vs. Laval

1967 (Varsity Stadium, Toronto): 10-9 loss vs. Alberta


Head coach: Stefan Ptaszek
Season: 9th
Career regular season record: 54-18 (.750)
Career playoff record: 13-7 (.650)
Career overall record (season & playoffs): 67-25 (.728)
Career overall record vs. Montreal: 0-0
Vanier Cup record: 1-1
Vanier Cup wins: 2011
Vanier Cup losses: 2012

 

ALL-TIME VANIER CUP RESULTS

2013    Laval 25, Calgary 14                           (TELUS-UL Stadium, Quebec City)

2012    Laval 37, McMaster 14                        (Rogers Centre, Toronto)

2011    McMaster 41, Laval 38 OT                  (BC Place Stadium, Vancouver)

2010    Laval 29, Calgary 2                             (PEPS Stadium, Quebec City)

2009    Queen’s 33, Calgary 31                       (PEPS Stadium, Quebec City)

2008    Laval 44, Western 21                           (Ivor Wynne Stadium, Hamilton)

2007    Manitoba 28, Saint Mary’s14               (Rogers Centre, Toronto)

2006    Laval 13, Saskatchewan 8                   (Griffiths Stadium, Saskatoon)

2005    Wilfrid Laurier 24, Saskatchewan 23   (Ivor Wynne Stadium, Hamilton)        

2004    Laval 7, Saskatchewan 1                     (Ivor Wynne Stadium, Hamilton)        

2003    Laval 14, Saint Mary’s 7                      (SkyDome, Toronto)

2002    Saint Mary’s 33, Saskatchewan 21      (SkyDome, Toronto)   

2001    Saint Mary’s 42, Manitoba 16              (SkyDome, Toronto)   

2000    Ottawa 42, Regina 39                          (SkyDome, Toronto)   

1999    Laval 14, Saint Mary’s 10                    (SkyDome, Toronto)   

1998    Saskatchewan 24, Concordia 17          (SkyDome, Toronto)   

1997    UBC 39, Ottawa 23                             (SkyDome, Toronto)   

1996    Saskatchewan 31, StFX 12                  (SkyDome, Toronto)   

1995    Calgary 54, Western 24                       (SkyDome, Toronto)   

1994    Western 50, Saskatchewan 40 OT       (SkyDome, Toronto)

1993    Toronto 37, Calgary 34                        (SkyDome, Toronto)   

1992    Queen’s 31, Saint Mary’s 0                 (SkyDome, Toronto)   

1991    Wilfrid Laurier 25, Mount Allison 18 (SkyDome, Toronto)   

1990    Saskatchewan 24, Saint Mary’s 21      (SkyDome, Toronto)   

1989    Western 35, Saskatchewan 10             (SkyDome, Toronto)   

1988    Calgary 52, Saint Mary’s 23                (Varsity Stadium, Toronto)     

1987    McGill 47, UBC 11                              (Varsity Stadium, Toronto)     

1986    UBC 25, Western 23                            (Varsity Stadium, Toronto)     

1985    Calgary 25, Western 6                         (Varsity Stadium, Toronto)     

1984    Guelph 22, Mount Allison 13              (Varsity Stadium, Toronto)     

1983    Calgary 31, Queen’s 21                       (Varsity Stadium, Toronto)     

1982    UBC 39, Western 14                            (Varsity Stadium, Toronto)     

1981    Acadia 18, Alberta 12                          (Varsity Stadium, Toronto)     

1980    Alberta 40, Ottawa 21                          (Varsity Stadium, Toronto)     

1979    Acadia 34, Western 12                        (Varsity Stadium, Toronto)     

1978    Queen’s 16, UBC 3                             (Varsity Stadium, Toronto)     

1977    Western 48, Acadia 15                        (Varsity Stadium, Toronto)     

1976    Western 29, Acadia 13                        (Varsity Stadium, Toronto)     

1975    Ottawa 14, Calgary 9                           (CNE Stadium, Toronto)         

1974    Western 19, Toronto 15                       (CNE Stadium, Toronto)                    

1973    Saint Mary’s 14, McGill 6                    (CNE Stadium, Toronto)                    

1972    Alberta 20, Waterloo Lutheran 7         (Varsity Stadium, Toronto)     

1971    Western 15, Alberta 14                        (Varsity Stadium, Toronto)     

1970    Manitoba 38, Ottawa 11                      (Varsity Stadium, Toronto)     

1969    Manitoba 24, McGill 15                       (Varsity Stadium, Toronto)     

1968    Queen’s 42, Waterloo Lutheran 14      (Varsity Stadium, Toronto)     

1967    Alberta 10, McMaster 9                       (Varsity Stadium, Toronto)     

1966    StFX 40, Waterloo Lutheran 14           (Varsity Stadium, Toronto)     

1965    Toronto 14, Alberta 7                          (Varsity Stadium, Toronto)     

 

NOTE 1: Rogers Centre was formerly called SkyDome (1989-2003 Vanier Cups)

NOTE 2: TELUS-UL Stadium was formerly called PEPS Stadium (2009-2010 Vanier Cups)

NOTE 3: Waterloo Lutheran now Wilfrid Laurier

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