CFL Pass

Fajardo returns to earth in Riders' 37-10 loss to Stampeders

Cody Fajardo’s impressive roll as the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ starting quarterback ended with a thud Saturday against the visiting Calgary Stampeders.

Fajardo, who had thrown 790 yards over his previous two starts, was limited to 89 yards as the Stampeders rolled to a 37-10 victory over the Roughriders before 29,147 spectators at Mosaic Stadium.

“They just outplayed us,” Roughriders head coach Craig Dickenson said after his team’s record dropped to 1-3. “Top to bottom, they played better than us across the board.”

Fajardo completed only nine of 15 passes and was intercepted twice by Tre Roberson. Roberson returned the second pick 48 yards for a fourth-quarter touchdown that after Eric Rogers’ two-point convert staked the Stampeders to a 30-10 lead.

The outing was the worst by Fajardo since he was pressed into starting duty after Zach Collaros suffered a concussion on the third offensive play of the Riders’ season. Fajardo was replaced by rookie Isaac Harker in the fourth quarter.

Calgary prevailed despite not having the services of quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell, the CFL’s 2018 most outstanding player and most valuable player in last year’s Grey Cup game. Mitchell (pectoral) is on the six-game injured list.

“Hats off to them,” Dickenson said of the Stampeders. “That’s a good crew over there — not just with the players but with the coaches as well.”

Nick Arbuckle was impressive in this first CFL start, leading Calgary on a touchdown drive on the Stampeders’ first offensive possession. Arbuckle completed 19 of 22 passes for 262 yards and two touchdowns, without an interception.

The Stampeders also rushed for 129 yards, averaging 6.1 yards per carry.

“Calgary just came out and established the run early and dictated the pace of play,” Dickenson noted.

Calgary’s opening drive was capped by Ka’Deem Carey’s two-yard touchdown run at 5:27 of the first quarter. Calgary led 6-0 after failing to score on a two-point convert attempt.

After a pair of two-and-outs by the Riders, Calgary went ahead 9-0 when Rene Paredes connected on an 11-yard field goal 16 seconds into the second quarter.

The Riders responded to Calgary’s field goal with a three-pointer of their own. Gabe Ferraro, who was signed on Wednesday, connected on a 36-yard field goal at 4:13 of the second quarter.

Ferraro was added to the active roster because starting placekicker Brett Lauther (groin) was placed on the one-game injured list on Friday.

Calgary went ahead 12-3 when Paredes booted a 50-yard field goal at 6:14 of the second quarter.

A 44-yard field goal by Paredes increased Calgary’s lead to 15-3 at 13:42 of the second quarter.

The Riders came roaring out of the gate in the third quarter thanks in part to a 68-yard return by Loucheiz Purifoy on the kickoff to Calgary’s 36-yard line. Six plays later, Fajardo scored on a one-yard run. The Riders trailed 15-10 after Ferraro’s convert at 3:20 of the third quarter.

Eric Rogers scored on a 19-yard pass from Arbuckle on the final play of the third quarter. The Stampeders led 22-10 after Paredes convert.

The Riders appeared to have Calgary buried on the Stampeders’ two-yard line. A pass interference penalty on Solomon Means put Calgary on its 42-yard line. Four plays later, Arbuckle connected with Rogers for the score.

Roberson then intercepted Fajardo and returned the pick 48 yards a touchdown. Rogers scored on the two-point conversion as the Stampeders opened up a 30-10 lead.

Reggie Begelton hauled in a 76-yard touchdown pass from Arbuckle. Calgary (2-1) led 37-10 after Paredes’ convert at 9:41 of the fourth quarter.

“We’re not as good as we thought,” Dickenson said, “and maybe Calgary’s a little better than we thought.”

The Roughriders are now on a bye week. They are to return to action July 20 against the visiting B.C. Lions.

mmccormick@postmedia.com

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Source: montrealgazette.com