Fajardo delivers when it matters as Roughriders earn dramatic win over Stampeders

Brett Lauther finished the CFL western semi-final off in OT with a 34 yard field goal as the Saskatchewan Roughriders beat the Calgary Stampeders 33-30.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders -- and especially Cody Fajardo -- came into Sunday's West semifinal against the Calgary Stampeders looking to prove a lot of doubters wrong.

It took more than four quarters, but the team succeeded as the crowd at Mosaic Field was treated to a classic playoff finish with Brett Lauther kicking the game-winning field goal in overtime.

Unlike the East semifinal between Hamilton and Montreal where the Tiger-Cats held the advantage in the turnover battle and used it to their advantage, the Roughriders didn't let four turnovers phase them. They also had to overcome a tough call early on as returner Jamal Morrow took a missed field goal and ran it back 124 yards only to have the touchdown erased by a penalty for an illegal block.

Saskatchewan's road to Hamilton doesn't get any easier as they will have to take on the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on the road in the West final.

Here are five takeaways from the overtime thriller:


The first half wasn't a great offensive showcase for either team, but especially for Fajardo who was struggling to push the ball down the field.

Coming into the game, Stampeders cornerback Jonathan Moxey had just two interceptions during the regular season but he had Fajardo's number in the first half with three picks. He would throw another to Jameer Thurman in the fourth quarter which would lead to a field goal for Calgary, who seized a 24-20 lead at that point.

It looked like Fajardo was on his way to another rough ending to his season but he was able to regroup and lead Saskatchewan on a nine-play, 75-yard drive that he finished off with a one-yard touchdown run. On that series, the 29-year-old completed six-straight passes.

Where Fajardo was at his best was when he used his legs to get out of the pocket and extend the play or take off for a big gain. After the game, he made it a point to say that he was relieved that the interceptions didn't come back to haunt him.

"I texted my family after the game and told them screw the statistics. It's all about the 'W' and that's been my mentality all year because I could care less as long as we find a way to win a game and our team rallied around us," Fajardo told reporters. "Our defence played incredible tonight not letting those turnovers turn to seven points, a lot of times they stopped them to a field goal."


Rene Paredes could not have had a worse start to the game missing his first two field goal attempts from 48 and 35 yards out.

The veteran kicker came into this game only missing four kicks out of his 48 attempts with his longest convert coming from 52 yards. After missing the first two, Paredes made five consecutive field goals including a 47-yarder with less than a minute left in the game.

After successfully converting on his first attempt in overtime, Paredes needed to convert on his eighth attempt to keep the game going. Unfortunately, the kick hooked to the left and you could see the anguish on his face as he missed the final kick.

"It's one of those I'll go to bat with him every game, they weren't gimmies," Stamps head coach Dave Dickenson said after the game. "We feel really confident with Rene and it just obviously didn't go away. We got worked over pretty hardcore special teams today. Very, very frustrating because it's probably been our best unit all year."


Shawn Lemon made a critical mistake at the end of the first half as he took an unnecessary roughness call that not only got him disqualified but moved the second-half kickoff 25 yards. Craig Dickenson decided to take advantage of the field position by going for an onside kick which Saskatchewan recovered thanks to A.C. Leonard.

The Roughriders wasted no time taking advantage as they would score a touchdown three plays later with Fajardo finding Mississauga native Kian Schaffer-Baker at the goal line for the touchdown.

Not only did this penalty give the Roughriders momentum to start the first half but the Stampeders lost one of their top pass rushers. Lemon came into the game fourth in the CFL with eight sacks and Calgary failed to get Fajardo to the ground in this game.


At many points in that game, it looked like the Stampeders were in a position to take a sizeable lead but the Roughriders defence found a way to limit the damage, especially early on.

Cornerback Ed Gainey had two interceptions on Bo Levi Mitchell and shut down the Stampeders' one-two punch of Reggie Begelton and Kamar Jordan in the first half. Ka'Deem Carey still had a productive night but when Calgary needed to convert on second and short in overtime in the red zone, the Roughriders pushed back the Stampeders running back for a loss and they had to settle for a field goal.

It looked like the game was over when Stampders receiver Luther Hakunavanhu fumbled the ball and Gainey was able to get a hand on it but Hergy Mayala was able to recover it. That play led to a second and long that Calgary could not convert, followed by a missed field goal.

Plays like that were the difference for Saskatchewan.


The Roughriders know they won't be favoured to beat the Blue Bombers. They lost both games to the Blue Bombers this season by a combined score of 56-17.

"We just got to take it a day at a time. Rest our bodies these next couple of days we have off (and) when we come back in we got to really be ready to handle business because if we thought this week was wild, next week is probably going to be even wilder," Gainey said. "We just got to come out and play fast start to finish."

This will also be a rematch of the West final from 2019 where Winnipeg did enough to move on to the Grey Cup and end their championship drought. Saskatchewan is hoping for a similar result to book their trip to Hamilton on Dec. 12.

THIS 'N THAT: After the game Mitchell said that he will take some time to think about his future and see where his body is but would like to return with the Stampeders next season...

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