REGINA — The Saskatchewan Roughriders’ defence set the table all night for the offence and Cody Fajardo and co. feasted on the visiting Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
The Riders scored touchdowns on three Ticats turnovers on Saturday night and got a field goal on another as they rolled to a 30-8 win at Mosaic Stadium.
Cody Fajardo seized every moment the defence created, making 17-25 passes for 222 yards and a pair of touchdowns, while adding a trip to the end zone on the rush as well, lifting the Riders to a 2-0 record.
Jeremiah Masoli made 17-25 passes for 135 yards, zero touchdowns and threw a pair of interceptions. The Ticats’ QB rushed for a touchdown and fumbled the ball away. Dane Evans saw his first action of the season, making 3-10 passes for 21 yards.
A slow offensive start began to give way with Global punter Joel Whitford‘s 58-yard single, which gave the Ticats a modest 1-0 lead.
Saskatchewan’s defence got to work next and started to impact the game. They did it by getting to two of the Ticats’ biggest stars. Riders’ safety Mike Edem forced a fumble on Brandon Banks that Loucheiz Purifoy recovered at Hamilton’s 50-yard line. Six plays later, Fajardo was rushing into the end zone. Brett Lauther‘s convert made it a 7-1 game just 44 seconds into the second quarter.
The Ticats struck back with a lengthy 11-play drive that saw them get four cracks at a goal-line attempt before Masoli broke in from a yard out. Taylor Bertolet‘s convert gave Hamilton an 8-7 lead, but it would be a short-lived advantage.
Shortly after a 19-yard field goal from Lauther, Masoli was sacked deep in Hamilton territory by Jonathan Woodard. The sack forced the ball loose and it was recovered by A.C. Leonard. Fajardo needed just one eight-yard toss to Canadian receiver Mitchell Picton for the touchdown, which helped propel the Riders to a 17-8 halftime lead.
Turnovers continued to haunt Hamilton into the third quarter. Masoli was intercepted by A.J. Hendy at Saskatchewan’s 48-yard line. The Riders quickly marched the ball down the field and Fajardo found Kyran Moore in the end zone for a six-yard strike, giving the QB his second passing TD of the game.
A melee broke out after the play that resulted in the ejection of Riders’ receiver Jake Harty and Ticats’ linebacker Jovan Santos-Knox, who ran over on official on his way to the post-touchdown scrum.
After all of that, Lauther coolly sent the convert home, making it a 24-8 game at 11:14 of the third quarter.
Trying to get his team back into the game on Hamilton’s next drive, Masoli looked to a leaping Banks for a reception, only to see the ball skip off of the reigning MOP’s fingers and snagged by Blace Brown at Hamilton’s 47-yard line. The Riders got a 34-yard field goal out of Lauther off the turnover, pushing the score to 27-8 at 13:46.
With Hamilton’s offence sputtering, Evans came in for Masoli to close out the evening, but he was in tough coming in cold against a red-hot Saskatchewan defence. The Riders began to go into closeout mode, with Lauther connecting from 41 yards out to put his team up 30-8 with 10 minutes to play.
The Ticats head into a bye week with plenty to think about while the Riders will welcome the Ottawa REDBLACKS to Mosaic Stadium on Aug. 21.