REGINA — The Saskatchewan Roughriders bounced back from an 0-2 season start to defeat the Toronto Argonauts 32-7 in the Canada Day home opener, and quarterback Cody Fajardo was a big reason why. Through two games in place of injured starter Zach Collaros, the 27-year-old quarterback has thrown for 790 yards and four touchdowns.
“To have two games like this back-to-back is truly a blessing, and I can’t do it without the guys in that room,” Fajardo said after the win.
While it is still early in the season, Fajardo and the Riders knew how important this home opener was with the team looking to rebound from early losses to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Ottawa REDBLACKS. The young pivot responded by completing 24 of 31 passes for a career-best 430 yards and two touchdowns. Fajardo also added a rushing score.
“When you lose multiple games back-to-back, faces start changing in there,” Fajardo said. “We told each other going into this game that this was a must-win even though it’s Week 3.”
Building off a solid passing performance against Ottawa in Week 2, Fajardo and offensive coordinator Stephen McAdoo continued to open things up on Canada Day against the Argos.
“I think we showed what we can do with the Ottawa game and gave coach McAdoo some confidence calling shots down the field,” Fajardo said. “We knew that a lot of teams were going to try to play us in man, try to blitz me and make me feel uncomfortable. We knew we had to take our shots and complete the ball down the field.”
The biggest shot of all in Saskatchewan’s Week 3 win was Fajardo’s 98-yard touchdown pass to receiver Kyran Moore, the longest Riders completion since 2002. Moore has had two highly productive performances with Fajardo under centre for Saskatchewan, racking up 244 receiving yards in the past two games.
“I got just as much confidence in him as I do Zach,” Moore said after the win. “He came in, he showed leadership and he showed he can ball, so he got my trust automatic the time I first met him.”
Despite the recent success on the field, Fajardo was quick to tell reporters after the win that his role is to fill in at quarterback until Collaros returns from the six-game injured list.
“My job when I signed here was being the backup,” Fajardo said. “My role as a player right now is to help this team win as much as I can while I get the opportunity, but Zach’s our guy and he showed that he can play at the highest level.”
The Saskatchewan Roughriders will be going for their second win of the season when they host the Calgary Stampeders in Week 4 action on Saturday at 10:00 p.m. EDT