Fajardo, Roughriders hindered by bad luck on last play of West Final


Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback Cody Fajardo leaves the field after losing to the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the CFL West Division final at Mosaic Stadium. (Mark Taylor/CP)

REGINA — Cody Fajardo made a last-ditch effort at a game-tying touchdown, but he was thwarted by a little bit of bad luck.

The Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterback had his pass ricochet off the crossbar on the final play of regulation to seal a 20-13 win for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the West Division Final on Sunday.

"The crossbar is 80 per cent air and 20 per cent iron and I hit it," Fajardo said. "There’s a pretty sick feeling in my stomach, just the fact that the play didn’t get a chance to be played out. … I felt like we had a guy open."

Riders defensive back Ed Gainey said his team was just unlucky on the peculiar play.

"It’s bad luck. I felt that we had luck on our side all year," Gainey said. "It seemed like a lot of things were going our way this year. It came down to that last drive and … what are the odds?"

It wasn’t clear whether Fajardo would play on Sunday. He missed the team’s final regular-season game on Nov. 2 and was limited at practice for the past week with a muscle strain in his oblique.

Fajardo completed 27-of-41 pass attempts for 366 yards and added 23 rushing yards despite the injury.

"I felt like I did everything I could to play out there," he said. "I felt like I was effective and that I didn’t hold the team back as much as I thought."

Kyran Moore was Fajardo’s favourite target. He caught nine passes for 119 yards.

Brett Lauther kicked four field goals for the Riders.

Safety Mike Edem fought back tears in the team’s locker room following the loss.

"Every man in this locker room is heartbroken," Edem said in the middle of a quiet Roughriders room. "We played our hearts out."

In his first season as a starting quarterback, Fajardo enjoyed a fairy-tale run. He led the CFL with 4,302 passing yards and represents the West as the nominee for Most Outstanding Player.

He led the team to a first-place finish in the West with a 13-5 record. Saskatchewan hosted the West Final was just the third time in franchise history.

"That’s the highs and the lows of football, the highs and lows of competitive sports," said linebacker Solomon Elimimian. "When things go your way, it’s great. When they don’t, it sucks."

"No one expected us to be where we’re at," Fajardo added. "We found a way to play together. … My heart just hurts for a lot of those guys that I’ll never get the opportunity to play football with again.

"Guys will be going to different teams. … So this team will never be the same. That’s it for us. And that’s what hurts the most.’

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