So the bitterness from last year’s epic championship was supposed to be long forgotten, buried deep in the memories of the players as they prepared for the rematch.
Friday night’s Vanier Cup tussle between the McMaster Marauders and Laval Rouge et Or had all the subtly of a sledgehammer to the side of the head.
This one was obviously personal, right from the opening introductions when a donnybrook between the two teams at midfield was just another insult away.
In the end the Rouge et Or found the redemption they so badly desired, stunning the defending national champions 37-14 before 37,098 at Rogers Centre, the largest gathering to ever witness a Vanier Cup.
In the process, the Rouge et Or won the national championship for the seventh time, more than any other Canadian institution, while halting the top-seeded Marauders record-setting win streak at 21.
The victory effectively wiped away the bitter memory of the 2011 Vanier Cup, a game for the ages that was eventually claimed by McMaster, 41-38, in double overtime.
Most of the experts felt that for Laval to be successful this time around they had to establish a running game, and that they did, led by the diminutive Maxime Boutin.
The 5-foot-9, 189-pound running back has become something of a darling for the Rouge et Or in the playoffs.
After being forced into a starting role a week ago because of an injury Boutin responded by compiling 213 yards in Laval’s victory over Acadia.
Friday night, Boutin broke free for another 253 yards on 24 carries and scored two touchdowns to help deflate the Marauders.
His rushing yardage was the second most in Vanier Cup history.
While the sequel didn’t have the same edge-of-your-seat quality as the first encounter, it was compelling nevertheless with the hostile atmosphere and plenty of fierce hitting.
Playing in front of the largely pro-McMaster audience, Laval held a 12-0 lead early in the second quarter before the Marauders finally got rolling behind their strong-armed quarterback, Kyle Quinlan.
The CIS player of the year scored one touchdown on a quarterback keeper play and then combined for an electrifying 59-yard pass and run play with Dahlin Brooks that quickly moved McMaster in front, 14-12.
But that was about it for Quinlan, who was hit hard and often by a free-wheeling Laval defence which negated his effectiveness.
With less than a minute remaining in the second quarter, Laval got the ball back and quarterback Tristan Grenon hit Seydou Junior Haidara near midfield with a pass, and the receiver broke free.
He was finally brought down on the Marauder two-yard line for a 75-yard gain with 13 seconds left, which should have been plenty of time for Laval to put more points up on the board.
However, on the next play, Grenon tried to hit Matthew Norzil with a lob pass deep in the corner of the end zone, but it fell incomplete and time in the first half had run out.
Emotions were running high even before the opening kickoff as the teams nearly got into a skirmish at mid-field.
Laval sprinted onto the field to a loud chorus of boos – and they responded by heaving a number of mini footballs into the stands behind its bench.
Next it was the Marauders turn and as they hit centrefield some of their players began yammering at the Laval bench.
Then the two teams came together on the field and had to be separated by the officials.
Laval regained a 19-14 lead early in the third quarter when Boutin burst through the middle for an 11-yard touchdown run.
That score was set up by a fake punt with Adam Thibault taking a direct snap in the backfield and then rambling around the left side for a 16-yard gain.
Boutin then crushed McMaster’s hopes when he took a hand-off and rambled around the right end before threading his way to an 84-yard touchdown gallop that brought the score to 28-14.
The run was the third longest in Vanier Cup history.