The Saskatchewan Roughriders were a heartbeat away from becoming the first team in CFL history to crossover from the West into the East and advance to the Grey Cup, but it wasn’t to be.
Cody Fajardo’s one-yard plunge with 44 seconds left was the winning touchdown as the Toronto Argonauts beat the Riders 25-21 to win the right to represent the East at next Sunday’s 105th Grey Cup in Ottawa.
The Riders went into the final 15 minutes down 18-3, but Brandon Bridge engineered a touchdown drive that was capped off by a Duron Carter touchdown. That was followed by a Tyler Crapigna field goal, and then Christion Jones brought Rider Nation out of their seats with a 79 yard punt return with 2:44 to play that made it look as if the Riders were going to be victorious.
The 38-year-old Ricky Ray had other plans though. Ray, who struggled with the Saskatchewan defence for most of the day, led the Argos down the field on a 10 play, 68 yard drive. The biggest play being a 3rd and 5 conversion as he hit James Wilder Junior on a 22 yard pass play to put the ball at the Saskatchewan 18.
The loss was one that obviously disappointed Head Coach Chris Jones.
Certainly it’s disappointing to come out on the losing end of a game that was that close. To not be able to finish it off, you get a pit in your stomach knowing you won’t have a chance to play for a championship. It’s very tough.”
The game capped the end of a season that saw the Riders struggle out of the gate before turning it around to record a 10 win season in Jones’ 2nd season at the helm—that was a five game improvement from 2016.