By Stephane Arnault, December 4 2014 —
The Université de Montréal Carabins have captured their first-ever national championship in breath-taking fashion.
The Carabins came from behind to defeat the McMaster University Marauders 20–19 at the Vanier Cup in front of 22,649 fans at Percival Molson Memorial Stadium in Montreal, Quebec, on Nov. 30.
“I’ve been dreaming of this moment since I was a little kid,” said Montreal quarterback Gabriel Cousineau. “It seems like it’s a movie right now. It’s a dream come true.”
In the final minute of the game, McMaster was trailing 20–19. Their last hope rested on their kicker. Tyler Crapigna attempted a 31-yard field goal that was blocked by Montreal defensive lineman Mathieu Girard. Carabins linebacker Byron Archambault recovered the ball.
Game, set and match for the Carabins.
“People didn’t think we were going to stop them. They probably thought McMaster was going to make that field goal,” Archambault said. “But no one on that sideline doubted us because we’re brothers. We won today because we had faith.”
Carabins Mathieu Girard wasn’t shy about his reaction after blocking the field goal.
“I looked at my teammates and said, ‘let’s put our balls on the table and play like men and win this cup for the school.’”
The Carabins’ offence ran out the clock to preserve the win.
Saturday’s victory capped an 11-game winning streak for Montréal. The undefeated streak is the longest in the team’s history.
“There’s a mental toughness about these kids,” said Carabins’ head coach Danny Maciocia. “They never doubted themselves. Not once, whether it was today or the course of the year, they just keep
believing and supporting one another.”
Maciocia is the first coach to win both a Grey Cup and a Vanier Cup. In 2005 he guided the Edmonton Eskimos to a CFL championship victory in the 93rd Grey Cup.
The first touchdown of the game came in the second quarter, when Marauders runningback Wayne Moore dashed 35 yards to give McMaster a 13–3 lead.
Despite trailing by 10 points at halftime, the Carabins remained confident in the dressing room.
“They were happy. They were looking at one another and saying it’s just 10 points, it’s no big deal,” Maciocia said. “We said that we needed to make this exciting because that’s what we’re all about this year.”
In the second half, McMaster kick returner Isaiah Mels fumbled the opening kickoff, which Montréal recovered.
Cousineau took advantage of the excellent field position, completing pass after pass as Montréal marched into enemy territory. He polished off the drive with a nine-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Philip Enchill.
McMaster answered with two more field goals. They led 19–10 heading into the final quarter.
Cousineau demonstrated in the fourth quarter why he is ranked third in total passing yards in Canada. A 31-yard bomb to wide receiver Regis Cibasu set up a three-yard touchdown for runningback Sean Thomas-Er.
“I thought [Cousineau] had a pretty good second half,” Maciocia said. “He kept the faith and kept believing and we prevailed.”
Montréal continued to gain momentum as the crowd roared. With three minutes remaining, L.P. Simoneau kicked a 13-yard field goal that was the game winner.
Cibasu had six receptions for 90 yards, and was named the Vanier Cup MVP.
“I didn’t do it alone,” Cibasu said. “I had help from all my teammates. We just believed until the end.”
Girard spoke about how winning the Vanier Cup can do wonders for the Carabins’ reputation.
“This year we talked to each other and we wanted to start a revolution. We wanted to show the country that there’s not only one team in Quebec.”
Montreal ended Laval’s unprecedented 70-game home winning streak prior to defeating McMaster for their first championship in school history.