Cody Fajardo channeled his inner Kerry Joseph.
The Ottawa Redblacks saw the full array of Fajardo’s playmaking in Regina.
The Riders’ starting quarterback used his legs and arm to lead the offence and capitalize on turnovers from an opportunistic green and white defence. That was the formula for a fifth straight Saskatchewan win. The prairies rising star dazzled while passing for 241 yards and one touchdown while rushing for 38 yards and one major.
— CFL on TSN (@CFLonTSN) August 24, 2019
— CFL on TSN (@CFLonTSN) August 25, 2019
Fajardo scored on an option play and eluded a defender while throwing a strike to put the game away. He used his sixth sense to spin away from Redblacks defensive lineman J.R. Tavai and spot a perfect ball to Naaman Roosevelt for a dynamic touchdown.
Shades of Kerry Joseph on the same night the CFL MOP was officially inducted in the Plaza of Honour. Joseph was known for his dual-threat abilities and the best season of his career came in 2007 when he threw for 4,002 yards with 24 touchdowns while adding 13 majors and 737 yards on the ground on the way to leading Saskatchewan to a Grey Cup championship.
That title feeling is starting to surround the 2019 version of the Riders, due in large part to the emergence of Fajardo. He ensured Saskatchewan turned Ottawa mistakes into points. For as good as Fajardo played, Redblacks’ quarterback Dominique Davis was on the complete opposite end.
Davis completed 3-of-6 passes for 23 yards and tossed three ill-advised interceptions. That’s as many connections with his own team and the opposition. All three picks were well off the mark of his intended target. Jon Jennings was summoned from the bench in the first quarter. Even though Jennings did show he still has a beautiful deep ball, the damage was done.
Ottawa’s offence remained largely unproductive after the change to Joe Paopao calling the plays. The Redblacks managed 309 total offensive yards and one single touchdown, Jennings’ 75-yard strike to Dominique Rhymes. Starting running back John Crockett was knocked from the game with an injury, which took a dynamic threat off the field.
The Riders ran out to a 17-0 lead and Saskatchewan scooted to a 40-18 victory. William Powell helped control the clock with 11 carries for 70 yards and two touchdowns. Shaq Evans was once again Fajardo’s favourite receiver, targeted 11 times resulting in six catches for 63 yards. Roosevelt made four receptions for 51 yards.
Jason Shivers’ defence forced five turnovers, knocked down four passes, sacked Ottawa’s pivots three times and generally roughed up their opponent. Nick Marshall had seven tackles and one interception, Cameron Judge four tackles and one sack, Solomon Elimimian four tackles and Loucheiz Purifoy stuffed the stat sheet: three tackles, two sacks, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
But it was Fajardo who headlined and played like one of the Riders’ greats.