Roughriders end slump by outscoring Elks 34-23 in Edmonton
EDMONTON – Having a break certainly seemed to serve Saskatchewan well.
Quarterback Cody Fajardo ran for a pair of touchdowns and scored another as the Saskatchewan Roughriders emerged with a 34-23 CFL win over the Edmonton Elks on Saturday.
The Roughriders (5-4) had lost three straight games before having a bye week and coming back with a win over Edmonton.
« Any win is a good win, » said Saskatchewan linebacker Darnell Sankey. “We come here and get a road win, it’s an accomplishment.
« We understand that we can’t underestimate any team, especially at this time. We came 4-4 and it’s good to win. We know we were the best team and that’s why we came here and got the win. It definitely lifted our spirits.
Fajardo felt like the break helped soothe his injured knee, as he actually led his team in rushing yards on the night with 51.
« I took a few pictures on it and didn’t feel anything, » he said. “I was able to run quite well and move around in the pocket.
« Being able to feel like myself again and have my legs back makes it a bit easier for the guys up front and creates some big plays on the court. I feel pretty good right now. »
The Elks (2-7) have now lost 12 straight home games at Commonwealth Stadium, a frustrating streak that dates back to October 12, 2019.
After Saskatchewan recorded a punt single on their first practice, Edmonton came back strong with quarterback Taylor Cornelius opting to go on a broken play for a 10-yard touchdown.
Fajardo responded in kind late in the first quarter with a one-yard dive to put the Riders back in front.
Roughriders kicker Brett Lauther threw a 34-yard field goal to start the second frame.
Edmonton looked poised to regain the lead, but Cornelius fumbled the ball on Saskatchewan’s five-yard line, with jumper Charleston Hughes recovering the ball.
The teams then traded field goals, with Elk Sergio Castillo making one at 38 yards and Lauther connecting at 46.
The Elks retook the lead when Cornelius took another ball himself into the end zone, rushing in from 26 yards with 31 seconds left in the first half.
However, Saskatchewan regained the lead before the halftime break on the ensuing kickoff as Mario Alford scored 98 yards for the touchdown to give his team a 21-17 lead.
The half-time break was extended due to nearby lightning.
Edmonton conceded another punt single, the lone run in the third.
Castillo started the fourth quarter with a 44-yard field goal and had another 46 yards shortly after on the heels of an interception by Nafees Lyon to give them a one-point advantage.
« I threw an interception but the guys stayed positive on the sideline and got through after that and we found a way to score two more touchdowns after that, » Fajardo said. « It means a lot when you make a mistake and your teammates support you like that. »
The Riders regained the lead with four minutes left as Fajardo found Duke Williams in the end zone with a 24-yard TD pass. The two-point conversion attempt failed.
Edmonton tried to trade shots, but Cornelius was picked off by Rolan Milligan, leading to a six-yard QB guard for a touchdown by Fajardo.
Both teams return to action next Friday as the Elks travel to Ottawa and the Roughriders host the BC Lions.
FOOT NOTES: Saskatchewan won the previous meeting between the two teams by a score of 26-26 in Week 2. … The Elks entered the game 0-6 against Western Division opponents while being outscored by an astonishing margin of 234-84. … In their first eight games, the Elks had a league-high 79 players playing at least one game. The Riders had the second-most at 68. … It was Wall of Honor night in Edmonton with three players from the five consecutive Gray Cup champion teams from 1978 to 1982 – Jim Germany, Joe Hollimon and Ed Jones – recognized during of a post-match ceremony, after the initial half-time proceedings were called off due to nearby lightning.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on August 13, 2022.
Shane Jones, The Canadian Press