Riders offence rediscover their magic in 23-16 win over BC

The Saskatchewan Roughriders rediscovered some success on offence on Friday night as they moved past the .500 mark with a 23-16 win over the BC Lions.

Cody Fajardo had a season high 321 yards passing with two touchdowns and 38 yards rushing.

In his first start at running back, Frankie Hickson had 129 yards rushing with 30 yards receiving.

Kian Schaffer-Baker had five catches for 170 yards and a touchdown in the Riders win.

On the other side, for the second straight week, the Lions had to deal with a change with at QB.

The Lions didn’t show any drop off on their opening drive of the game as Michael  O’Connor was able to find Bryan Burnham for an 18 year old completion which was followed by a 28 yard reception by Lucky Whitehead. BC’s possession would then stalled and would end with a field goal.

Saskatchewan’s defence attempted to swing the wave of momentum on the Lions second offensive drive. Larry Dean recorded his third sack of the season as that ended the Lions possession and forced them into a punting situation.

In the second quarter, Sean Whyte extended the Lions advantage to 6-0 with a 45 yard field goal on a drive that was extended by a controversial roughing the passer infraction to the Riders Darnell Sankey.

The Riders offence did get a bounce of good luck shortly afterwards, as Schaffer-Baker collected a bouncing ball and picked a 49 yard reception for the green and white. With a chance to score a touchdown inside of the BC ten yard line, the Riders drive was ended by a sack by former University of Saskatchewan Huskie, Nathan Cherry, as Brett Lauther put Saskatchewan on the scoreboard with a 20 yard field goal.

Renewed chemistry between Schaffer-Baker and Fajardo continued on the following possession with the Lions sending a blitz, the Riders QB found his receiver in one on one coverage, and the former Guelph Gryphon was able to haul in the pass and scampered his way for a touchdown. On the run by Schaffer-Baker , Lions DB, TJ Lee suffered a hamstring injury and left the game  and did not return.

Antonio Pipkin took over O’Connor as the BC quarterback on the last drive before the end of the first half and led his team down inside of Saskatchewan’s territory before they ended up a 19 yard field goal by Whyte.

Fajardo was able to rally the Riders for additional points at the end of the first half on a drive that was highlighted Kyran Moore picking his reception of the season. Hickson picked up 29 combined yards on the drive, setting up a 22 yard field goal by Lauther to end the half with the Riders enjoying a 13-9 advantage.

Saskatchewan scored the opening points in the second half on another 22 yard field goal by Lauther, a drive that was powered by the Roughriders ground game as Hickson and Fajardo carried the ball for 44 yards to set up the field goal.

Tevin Jones helped the Riders pad their lead in the final possession of the third quarter with a pair of catches for 44 yards including a 26 yard touchdown catch with Saskatchewan leading 23-9 heading into the final frame.

The ten points in the third quarter for the Riders marked the first points Saskatchewan scored against BC in the second half in their three contests between the two teams this season.

BC wouldn’t go away easily in the fourth quarter as they scored a touchdown by Jacob Scarfone with a seven yard in the endzone to cut the Lions deficit into a one possession game at 23-16.

After both teams traded possessions, the Riders were able to run out the clock with the aid of Lions penalty for illegal contact on a receiver.

Saskatchewan improves their record to 6-5  and pick up their first victory against the Lions this season.

Following the game, Riders Head Coach Craig Dickenson said he felt that the Riders confidence grew as he the game went on.

“I hope we can build off it, we needed that win bad, we came out of the game relatively healthy, so I feel pretty good about it.”

Looking at offensive resurgence this week, the Riders Head Coach believe it because of a collaborative effort between the offensive staff and his QB.

“They (the offensive) told me that we’re going to do what Cody wants to do, we’re going to let him have some input in the game plan, and I think they did and I think it paid off.”

Schaffer-Baker says he kept focusing on a positive frame of mind through the recent struggles.

“You can’t always control the outcome of the way things go, but you can respond how you respond to things, so things weren’t going my way, or the team’s way for the past couple of weeks, we just kept fighting, and kept working through it, and eventually you’ll prevail and that’s how we came out on top today. ”

He added that building confidence was emphasis in practice this week.

“Keep building off each other, looking to one another, as long as we play with our hearts out and leave everything for the guys beside us than no matter the score we’ll be happy with the game.”

Defensive back Amari Henderson says it’s the defence has to continue being consistent.

“Coming into practice ready to work having a hardhat, making sure  taking every rep serious, whether that’s in practice, whether it’s in the weight room or it’s just in film studies, that’s what try we do, that’s what we try to accomplish every single week , every single week, we try to go 1-0.”

Dickenson knows the Riders will be in tough next week when they begin a their home and home set with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

“They looked good early in the season, they look better now after ten wins, we got to play our best football to beat them, but I think we’re on the right track.”

The Riders will return home and meet the Blue Bombers on Sunday September 4 at Mosaic Stadium. You can catch the game on 620 CKRM with an opening kickoff of 4:00.

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