REGINA – The Saskatchewan Roughriders remain the only undefeated team in the CFL after defeating the Ottawa REDBLACKS 23-10.
It was a defensive showdown, Saturday night in Regina as both teams’ units came to play. Keeping both quarterbacks in check as Cody Fajardo passed for 321 yards while Matt Nichols connected on 19-23 for 176 yards it was the kickers who came to play as Brett Lauther went 5-5 on the night.
Through the first quarter of play, Ottawa and Saskatchewan’s defences were dictating the game. This played into Ottawa’s hands as they looked to follow up their Week 1 performance against Calgary.
After both teams jockeyed for position and looked to get the game’s first points on the board, Saskatchewan would strike first. Off the foot of Brett Lauther, the Riders broke the stalemate but the REDBLACK’s Lewis Ward would knock one through from 33 yards out to tie the game once again.
After poking and prodding at the Ottawa defence looking for areas to exploit, Riders’ offensive coordinator, Jason Maas dialled up a flea-flicker. After blanket-like coverage by De’Chavon Hayes saw the to ball intended to Kian Schaffer-Baker fall incomplete, the REDBLACKS would gain possession at their 31-yard line following a caught punt. While their offence would not amount to anything on their ensuing drive, a punt by Richie Leone would pin Saskatchewan on their own five-yard line.
After trading possessions and neither team breaking the tie, Cody Fajardo connected with Brayden Lenius on third down with three yards to go. While Ottawa would challenge the ruling on the field under the grounds that Lenius made the reception out of bounds, the call would stand, setting the Riders up on the Ottawa 22-yard line. Standing their ground, the REDBLACKS would force another Riders field goal, keeping the damage done to just three points.
After trading possessions for the remainder of the quarter, Lauther would add another field goal in the final seconds of the first half to give the Riders a 9-3 lead.
Cody Fajardo would be the first player to find the endzone as late in the third quarter as a reception made by Paul McRoberts set the Riders up near the goal line. After collecting the snap, Fajardo rolled out of the backfield to the right, cut right, cut left and lept over the goal line in a dazzling effort to put the Riders up 17-3.
Roughrider penalties would translate to a REDBLACK touchdown as after back-to-back 15-yard penalties were called against the Riders defence, Nichols would find R.J. Harris downfield to get them to the three-yard line. After failing to punch it in on the first attempt, Devonte Dedmon would get it over the goal line the second time to bring the game within seven points.
After Riders’ defensive back, Ed Gainey picked off Matt Nichols, the Riders looked to widen the gap. Fajardo led them down the field, dishing the ball out to Kyran Moore and William Powell, but it would be Lauther again tacking on the points for the Green and White on third down after Craig Dickenson opted not to go for it.
After what looked like an Ottawa turnover off a tackle by Don Unamba, it was ruled Roughriders ball. With time left fading, the Roughriders looked to put it away. After a successful conversion on a quarterback sneak on third-and-one by Fajardo, he would hand it off to Powell to eat the rest of the clock. With only 54 seconds left, a full-house backfield would allow Fajardo to find Kienan Lafrance for another first down, securing the team’s league-leading third win in a row.
Saskatchewan will now enjoy a bye-week while Ottawa will take on the BC Lions, Saturday at 7:00 p.m. ET.