Roughriders' season ends with a clunk
Saskatchewan falls short of Grey Cup bid with 20-13 loss to Winnipeg
It was no doubt the sickest sound Cody Fajardo had ever heard in his life.
Ironically, Saskatchewan Roughriders quarterbacks play a little game among themselves in practice.
They make little side bets to see who can hit the crossbar with a football.
But when Fajardo ricocheted his end zone pass off the north end zone crossbar on Sunday night with no time left, it was a cruel ending to a promising year.
"I just remember hitting that thing and the stadium was complete dead silence and I can just hear the echo of the iron." said Fajardo moments after a 20-13 loss to the visiting Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the CFL West Division final.
Unfortunately for Fajardo and the Riders, it was not a scene you could imagine from a movie, just reality.
Their season was over.
The Cody Fajardo story, however, would make for a pretty good screenplay.
A guy considered to be nothing more than a role player back in training camp, to take over as the No. 1 quarterback just a few plays into the season and go on to be nominated as the Western nominee for most outstanding player.
Only one other quarterback in CFL history (David Archer) had more yards in his first season as a starter.
Fajardo tied the league record for most wins in a season for a first year starter and he set a team record for passing efficiency.
He also played Sunday's West Final with two torn oblique muscles which he confirmed after the game was over.
Torn oblique muscles can take months to recover from but Fajardo was playing a little more than two weeks after he suffered the injury in practice.
"I thought I did everything I could to play out there, felt like I was effective and didn't hold the team back."
Never did the head coach consider pulling him out.
"No, we were going to go with Cody the whole way. He's our leader, he's going to play." said Craig Dickenson, sitting beside Fajardo during the post-game media conference.
The same thoughts echoed through the dressing room.
"It's admirable. We knew he wasn't 100 per cent, felt like he did what we needed him do, he just gave us a chance." said linebacker Solomon Elimimian.
But while the Riders clean out their stalls at Mosaic Stadium, the story that will play out in Calgary at Grey Cup this week will be of Zach Collaros.
While Collaros was recovering, Fajardo was establishing himself as Saskatchewan's golden child, arguably the most popular Roughriders quarterback since Ron Lancaster.
General manager Jeremy O'Day rid himself of a potential problem by trading Collaros mid-season to Toronto, the last-place team in the East Division.
It was a trade that came back to bite him in the butt.
Little did he know, the Argos would ship Collaros off to Winnipeg who quickly became number one there, and didn't you see it coming?
Football can be a cruel game.
But not as cruel as a clunk off the cross bar with no time left on the clock.
And that other clunk you heard was Fajardo's heart.
But it's only the beginning for Fajardo as he enters 2020 with a new contract.
"It's my first off-season knowing that I've got a home next year and the year after that."
One thing is certain. The Grey Cup game will be played at Mosaic Stadium next November, and the Riders' brass will do everything in their power to make sure they are in it.
As Cody Fajardo said himself to close out Sunday night, the future looks bright for the Roughriders.