Saskatchewan Roughriders get Friday night road win against BC Lions

VANCOUVER — The Saskatchewan Roughriders put together a resilient performance headlined by quarterback Cody Fajardo as they took a win on the road against the BC Lions.

Fajardo led the Riders to the win over the Lions to close out Friday’s doubleheader in Vancouver. The Rider quarterback completed 79.2 per cent of his 24 passing attempts, throwing for 321 yards and two touchdowns in the win over the West Division rivals.

Kian Schaffer-Baker had night to remember as the second-year receiver pulled in a new career-high in receiving yards with 170 yards on five receptions, including an 85-yard touchdown in the contest. Tevin Jones made the most of his limited targets catching all three for 50 yards and the game’s second touchdown.

Running back Frankie Hickson had a breakout performance on Friday evening as he made the start in place of the injured Jamal Morrow. Hickson carried the ball 15 times in the contest, rushing for 129 yards, while adding another 30 yards through the air.

» Box Score: Riders, Lions by the numbers
» Through the Lens: Roughriders at Lions
» Watch: Fajardo and Jones connect for TD to extend Rider lead
» Fajardo commands offence in win over Lions

CFL fans did not have to wait long to see Michael O’Connor make his debut under centre for the Lions as BC received the opening kickoff and started the game with their offence on the field.

After having his first pass of the game batted down, O’Connor completed an 18-yard pass to Bryan Burnham before completing a 28-yard pass to Lucky Whitehead.

O’Connor would be unable to lead his team to the end zone on the game’s opening drive as his next two passes fell incomplete, but the Lions would still manage points.

Lions kicker Sean Whyte was called on to attempt his first field goal of the game and the veteran kick had no trouble as he knocked through a 35-yard field goal to give his team an early three point lead.

Whyte’s field goal would stand as the lone score of the game’s opening quarter as a defensive back and forth would consume the remainder of the first. The Riders offence would be held to 65 total yards after the first quarter of play, while the Lions managed just 68 of their own.

O’Connor opened the second quarter in similar fashion to his opening drive of the game, as he helped lead an eight-play scoring drive. Unfortunately for the Lions, much like their opening drive of the game, they would be held out of the end zone after sustaining a long drive.

BC relied upon their veteran kicker to help extend their lead, and Whyte delivered as he split the uprights on a 42-yard field goal, helping to push the Lions lead to six.

Following the score from the Lions, Fajardo looked determined to ignite a spark for his offence. The Rider pivot heaved a pass down field intended for receiver Kian Schaffer-Baker that looked like it might be intercepted, however the pass was tipped into the air and Schaffer-Baker was able to secure the ball for a 49-yard reception.

The Lions would manage to limit the damage after the big play from Saskatchewan. On a second down and five, BC rookie defensive lineman Nathan Cherry muscled his way into the backfield to bring Fajardo down for a sack and halting the Rider drive.

Saskatchewan would still manage to find points as they called on kicker, Brett Lauther for a 20-yard attempt. The veteran kicker split the uprights from short-distance, giving his team their first points of the game, cutting into the BC lead.

After forcing a two and out, the Riders offence was back on the field nearing the end of the second quarter. This drive the Riders would not be denied entrance to the end zone as Fajardo connected with Schaffer-Baker for another massive play as the second-year Saskatchewan receiver scored and 85-yard touchdown to give his team a 10-6 lead.

The Lions put together a nine-play scoring drive led by quarterback Antonio Pipkin. Pipkin made his way into the game late in the second quarter taking over for O’Connor who was ruled out for the game with an injury.

Pipkin completed three of his five passing attempts for 33 yards, adding another 10 yards rushing as the BC offence worked their way down to the Saskatchewan 12-yard line.

Pipkin tossed a beautiful pass towards the back of the end zone intended for Dominique Rhymes, but the pass fell incomplete, forcing the Lions to try for a field goal. Whyte connected on his third field goal of the half as he sent a 19-yard attempt through the uprights to cut into the Rider lead.

With no time remaining in the half, Lauther extended the Rider lead as he connected on a 22-yard field goal attempts to give his team a 13-9 lead entering the half.

The Lions defence opened the second half showing their aggression. Back-to-back sacks from defensive lineman Obum Gwacham and linebacker Emmanuel Rugamba, helped to stall the Riders opening drive of the third quarter and forced them to punt.

Saskatchewan’s defence would answer with a stand of their own as they forced back-to-back incompletions from BC’s Pipkin for a two and out.

Roughriders’ running back Frankie Hickson helped to ignite a scoring drive as he took the first snap for a 22-yard gain. Later in the drive it was Hickson again who broke free on an 11-yard rush, helping to set his team up in scoring range. However, back-to-back stops from the Lions defence, forced Saskatchewan to settle for a field goal.

The Riders called upon Lauther once again, as he converted a 22-yard field goal to give Saskatchewan a 16-9 lead at the midway point of the third quarter.

Saskatchewan would be the first team to find the end zone in the game’s second half, as Fajardo helped put together a seven-play scoring drive to extend the Rider lead.

Fajardo completed five consecutive passes for 72 yards and the drive was headlined by a 26-yard touchdown pass to Tevin Jones, who made a highlight reel catch as he came down with the ball for the score.

When the Lions seemed to be needing it most, Pipkin delivered as he helped to drive the BC offence down the field for a score. Pipkin completed four consecutive passing attempts, before extending the drive on a quarterback sneak play.

With the fresh set of downs, Pipkin found receiver Jacob Scarfone in the end zone for a seven-yard touchdown connection, pulling the Lions within eight-points.

The touchdown pass from Pipkin marks his first touchdown pass since Week 1 of the 2019 season, when Pipkin was playing with the Montreal Alouettes.

With just over three minutes remaining the Lions were reliant upon their defence for a stop in order to give themselves a chance to tie the game.

Fajardo sailed a pass that fell incomplete on second down and the Lions appeared to have the stop they needed, however an illegal contact penalty was called against BC defensive back Gary Peters, giving Saskatchewan a fresh set of downs and ultimately helping to seal the win.

Looking ahead to Week 13 the Lions will have a bye week before returning to action against Montreal in Week 14. While the Roughriders will be hosting the Winnipeg Blue Bombers for their Labour Day Classic meeting from Mosaic Stadium.

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