Cody Fajardo and the Saskatchewan Roughriders have mixed emotions following their win over the Elks on Saturday night in Edmonton.
Fajardo ended the game by completing 20 of his 26 throws for 247 yards, solidifying a 26-16 victory with a 28-yard touchdown pass to receiver Mitch Picton late in the fourth quarter. However, the team’s excitement soon changed to concern when offensive lineman Dan Clark stayed down on the field with an ankle injury with minutes left in the game.
Video replay shows Clark got clipped by an Elks’ defensive lineman who was attempting to tackle Riders’ running back Jamal Morrow. The six-foot-two, 310-pound lineman lay on the turf in pain and received medical attention before he was carried off of the field on the injury cart visibly distraught.
“It’s detrimental to the team, team morale and sours the win a little bit, and I know Dan would hate that I said that,” Fajardo told the media post-game. “We’re really going to hurt from this one and hopefully we get some good news but I’m not sure it’s looking too great.”
Clark plays a crucial role as the centre on the Saskatchewan offensive line. The Regina-born football player is a product of the Thom Trojans and Regina Thunder and has been with the Riders for ten years. Clark helped the team win the Grey Cup in 2013 and was named CFL all-star centre in 2019, with Saturday night marking his 127th game in Green and White.
“You know, he always tells you, ‘Put a smile on your face,’” Fajardo told TSN’s Sara Orlesky while leaving the field. “He’s always smiling, always having fun and he’s been playing for a long time. To be able to be as happy as he is, it’s pretty cool to have that. I feed off that energy. Hopefully we can get some prayers up, a prayer circle, so we get some good news.”
Before Clark left the field, he was surrounded by his teammates who took a knee or gave him well-wishes. Fajardo, in particular, looked visibly upset by the situation and was quick to come to Clark’s side.
“He’s such a team guy and you notice everybody on that sideline went over there and showed him some love,” Fajardo continued. “That really hurts this win but we’re gonna do it for Dan from here on out.”
Riders head coach Craig Dickenson did not have an update on Clark after the game, but did say “it wasn’t good.”
The Riders were able to lengthen the Elks’ home game losing streak and hold their own against a Chris Jones defence, but the injury to Clark will mean the Riders will have a different-looking offensive line in Week 3 against the Montreal Alouettes.