Cody Fajardo’s last minute heroics lift Roughriders over BC Lions

Vancouver —  Cody Fajardo‘s 279 passing yards and last-minute, come-from-behind quarterback sneak propelled the Saskatchewan Roughriders over the BC Lions 25-24.

The Michael ReillyLucky Whitehead connection continued to result in points for the Lions’ offence as the two connected for a pair of touchdowns on the night as part of Reilly’s 259-yard passing night.

On defence, both teams brought their best making life hard for each offence’s running backs to establish their run game. The Lions’ secondary would continue to improve on their impressive takeaway resume as they recorded an interception for the seventh-straight game.

Brett Lauther was a crucial part of the Riders’ offence as his four field-goal attempts on the night kept the Green and White on the Lions’ tails all night and sealed the game with his final point-after-attempt.

» Through the Lens: Saskatchewan at BC
» Boxscore: Riders, Lions by the numbers
» Watch: Whitehead shows his speed for the touchdown

BC Lions WR Lucky Whitehead #7 Photo: Jimmy Jeong/

It was a sight to see Friday night in Vancouver as a sea of Lions fans draped in orange as part of the team’s “Orange Shirt Day Game” gathered to see their team take on the Riders in a battle for second in the West Division.

Following an opening drive that ended in a Lions’ punt, the Fajardo-led Riders went to work. Handing off the ball to William Powell, the Riders’ offensive line generated enough room for him and Fajardo to march their way down the field.

After a sneaky, underhand completion on third-down from Fajardo to Brayden Lenius, the Riders would get all the way down to the BC 30 yard line before Lauther would be called upon. From 38 yards out, Lauther would drill the football through the uprights, putting the Riders upfront.

In a similar fashion to last week, it took the Lions no time at all to answer.

After dropping a sure-first down during the Lions’ first drive, Reilly and Whitehead would give the fans something to cheer about. It started with the feet of Bryan Burnham whose 28-yard reception gave the Lions’ offence some momentum. Reilly and Whitehead would attack the sidelines a single play later on a bubble screen and as Whitehead blazed past the entire Riders’ secondary on route to a 47-yard touchdown, giving the Lions their first lead of the game

The Riders would find themselves successful on their second-consecutive drive as a booming kick off the leg of Lauther from near mid-field would be good, bringing the Riders within a point of the Lions’ lead

Following a stalled-out Lions drive that would see them forced to punt, the Riders’ offence would be faced with a long field.

Starting on their own 21-yard line, Craig Dickenson would call on the talents of his quarterback to guide them down the field. After a false start penalty called on Ricardo Louis forced the Riders back five yards, Fajardo would find Michael Picton before calling his own number twice. After racking up 11 yards on the ground, Fajardo would connect with Lenius for a big gain in the Lions’ territory. Powell nor Fajardo would garner a first down which saw the Riders call on Lauther to take the field. After being good on his third attempt of the game, the Lions’ were on the opposite end of the score as the Riders led 9-7.

The Lions would claw back and reclaim the lead on the heels of Reilly, whose seven-straight completions would find see the Lions positioned in the Riders’ red zone with less than 30 seconds in the half. After a hit blindside hit forced a pass intended for Burnham in the endzone to fall incomplete, Reilly found Whitehead a  for their second touchdown connection of the game.

After the Riders’ offence flipped the field off back-to-back completions by Fajardo, a textbook pass break up in the endzone by Edwards-Cooper would force the Riders to kick again. Lauther would hit his fourth field goal attempt from 30-yards out to bring the Riders within striking distance of the lead.

Jimmy Camacho would steal the Lions’ lead right back on their next possession as his first field goal attempt of the night was good from 32 yards out.

The night’s first turnover would come off a Jon Ryan punt that was bobbled by Whitehead and recovered by Blace Brown. This would prove costly for the Lions as Fajardo would find Louis in stride battling single coverage for a 23-yard touchdown, putting them out front by a single point.

The Lions would capitalize on a pass interference on Ed Gainey as Shaquille Cooper collected the handoff from Reilly and as he crossed the goal line, he swung the score back in the Lions’ favour.

With under a minute a short punt by the Lions set the stage for the dramatics.

With the ball on the Lions’ 54-yard line, Fajardo and the Riders’ offence came out firing. Fajardo would complete three quick passes, working their way down to the five-yard line. After being sacked for a loss of four. Fajardo would link up with Kyran Moore near the goal line before lining up under centre and scoring the go-ahead touchdown.

The Riders would pad their lead on the final kickoff of the game as another Whitehead fumble would be returned for a touchdown by Demarquis Gates.

Next up for the Lions is a date with the West-Division leading Winnipeg Blue Bombers at IG Field on Friday night at 10:oo p.m. ET. Saskatchewan will travel to Calgary to tangle with the Stampeders on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. ET.

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