Cody Fajardo has quarterbacked the Saskatchewan Roughriders to a fourth-quarter comeback win in three of their past four home games.
When a fourth-quarter comeback is of the essence, the Saskatchewan Roughriders can count on Cody Fajardo — as in Fajard0:24, Fajard0:00 and Fajard0:25.
Most recently, a mere 25 seconds remained on the Mosaic Stadium scoreboard after a 39-yard Brett Lauther field goal that was ultimately the difference as Saskatchewan edged the Montreal Alouettes 27-25.
So concluded the third home game — in a span of four contests — in which Fajardo rescued the Roughriders by engineering a clutch scoring drive.
Call him Comeback Cody.
It all started with Corn Dog Cody.
On Aug. 1, Fajardo scored on a five-yard run with 24 seconds left to give the Roughriders a CFL 24-19 victory over the visiting Hamilton Tiger-Cats. He celebrated by memorably wading into the Queen City Ex midway and ingesting a ketchup-coated corn dog.
The Roughriders were playing ketchup (sorry) again on Sept. 1, when Fajardo directed a 10-play, 87-yard drive to put Lauther in position to kick a 26-yard field goal as time expired and deliver a 19-17 walk-off victory over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.
Then came Saturday, when Fajardo moved the offence 54 yards in seven plays before Lauther settled matters.
“If we keep doing this, we’ll say that we’ve been in this position before,” Fajardo said. “I think that’s what helped us in a situation like that. We know we’ve done it before as an offensive unit.”
The similarities extend beyond the Roughriders’ knack for winning nail-biters.
Early in the fourth quarter, for example, Fajardo took off to his left and scored on a seven-yard run — registering a major when he reached out and touched the front pylon with the football.
It was a virtual replica of his game-winning TD against Hamilton, with two yards tacked on for the reprise.
“For some reason, I love that pylon over there,” the engaging Fajardo said with a chuckle.
DeVier Posey was open on the left for what would have been a first-down reception, but Judge ensured that the ball did not arrive.
“That was big,” Roughriders head coach Craig Dickenson said. “He got the game ball on defence. I thought he showed a lot of grit.
“He was hurt and came back. I don’t know what it was — maybe a calf cramp or something. He has been a good player for us all year. He doesn’t say too much. He just keeps playing and working hard and I was really happy to see him make a play at the end.”
After Montreal was forced to punt, Saskatchewan scrimmaged the ball on its 25-yard line, whereupon Fajardo went to work … again.
He hit William Powell and Kyran Moore for six-yard gains before finding Shaq Evans for 25.
After making a catch in traffic, Evans maintained possession despite being rocked by Alouettes defenders Bo Lokombo and Tommie Campbell.
That play prompted Kris Cherewyk to observe on Twitter that Evans’ catch was reminiscent of a crucial 18-yard grab by Mark Guy on the Roughriders’ historic final possession of the 1989 Grey Cup game.
Guy held on to the ball while absorbing jarring hits from Hamilton defensive backs Will Lewis and Jim Rockford, giving Saskatchewan a first down on the Tiger-Cats’ 36-yard line.
Shortly after another catch by Guy — a 10-yard collaboration with Kent Austin — Dave Ridgway kicked a 35-yard field goal with two seconds left to give Saskatchewan a 43-40 victory.
These reminiscences are pertinent in light of the fact that the Roughriders on Saturday commemorated the 30-year anniversary of the 1989 championship season.
After Evans’ effort evoked fond memories of Guy, Saskatchewan ran the ball on four consecutive plays (which gained a total of 17 yards) before Lauther atoned for Saturday’s two missed kicks by hitting the game-winner.
The holder on the decisive kick was Jon Ryan, who celebrated his eighth birthday on Nov. 26, 1989 — the same day Saskatchewan captured the second championship in franchise history.
Want another parallel? No? Well, er, sorry (repeat).
It should be noted, at the not-inconsiderable risk of belabouring the 1989 theme, that the Roughriders’ first and final meaningful games of that season were both decided by a last-second field goal.
In the opener, the Roughriders rallied from a 26-6 fourth-quarter deficit and defeated the visiting Calgary Stampeders 32-29. Ridgway kicked a 42-yard field goal as time expired.
Ridgway provided a nice bit of symmetry by punctuating that season with The Kick.
Suitably, the Roughriders capped their “Saturday Night ’80s Party” with another game-winning three-pointer.
Also in adherence to the 1980s theme, various musical selections from that decade were played over Mosaic Stadium’s public-address system.
Most notably, Fajardo and a sprinkling of teammates were seen on the MaxTron during the third quarter, singing and dancing to Rick Astley’s 1987 smash hit, “Never Gonna Give You Up,” as part of a pre-recorded gem of a Roughriders video production.
“Oh my gosh,” said Fajardo, evincing sheepishness. “I saw that. That was not pretty.
“That was a good song. I loved it and I was into it, but I looked up and I kind of cringed. It humbled me during the game. I was like, ‘Oh my God. That’s pretty ugly.’ ”
But the day was saved, again, when Fajardo launched a successful comeback — as did Rick Astley, once upon a time.