Fajardo writes happy ending to Riders' game with 'a little sprinkle of Jesus'
Cody Fajardo rises up to lift Roughriders to last minute victory
Since he started his first game six weeks ago in place of the injured Zach Collaros, Cody Fajardo has referred to himself as 'only the backup'.
Perhaps it was a way to take pressure off himself from the burden of being under the microscope as the Roughriders' starting quarterback.
All that changed on Wednesday morning when Collaros was traded to the Toronto Argonauts.
Fajardo went from just filling in, to the full time job, in one phone conversation between general managers.
Even though he had started the five previous games, start number six was the official beginning of the Cody Fajardo era in Saskatchewan.
What a way to start.
To be honest, I had no idea how I was going to write this story up until the 59th minute of the game.
The contest between the Riders and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats was as nondescript as they come.
But then with 'a little sprinkle of Jesus,' Fajardo wrote the whole thing by himself.
Late in the 4th quarter, thanks to a Kyran Moore punt return, Fajardo took it from there and drove the Riders into the red zone.
Then with 24 seconds to play, Fajardo called his own number, scampered to the west side pylon and dove in for the game winning touchdown.
A dangerous stunt no doubt as he was even warned by his coaches in practice not to try such a thing.
"Kind of a walk-off touchdown there, that was pretty exciting." said the always smiling Fajardo moments after the 24-19 victory.
"I made a business decision at the end there, diving for the pylon, in practice I had a similar play where I told them I would dive for the pylon and they were, 'don't do it, don't do it."
But he did it, much to the delight of Rider nation.
Fajardo finished the game completing 25 of 31 passes for 313 yards. No touchdown passes, but no interceptions either.
Most importantly, it was the Riders' third straight win to improve their record to 4 and 3.
Fans on the post-game phone-in shows were already calling Fajardo Saskatchewan's 'little sprinkle of Jesus,' a phrase Fajardo has been heard to say many times since taking over the starting role.
But oddly enough, Fajardo, a spiritual man from Orange County, California, got his inspiration Thursday from the aroma of the Queen City Ex.
"I'm really excited to get a corn dog to be honest. I'm a big carnival corn dog guy and I was like hopefully the game goes well so I can go get a corn dog. So that's probably what gave me the will to score that touchdown, a little inspiration of a corn dog at the carnival."
That's Cody in nutshell, a likable young man who now has a football team and a football province ready to follow.
"I think Cody's reaction to every situation is great." said Shaq Evans who led all receivers Thursday night with 160 yards for 587 on the season.
"He's so poised and so calm. No matter what's going on, he's never rattled."
Evidence of that happened early in the 3rd quarter when it looked like the Fajardo era would be over before it barely got started.
Tiger-Cat defensive tackle Dylan Wynn got to Fajardo from behind for a sack and rolled up on the quarterback's right ankle.
Fajardo slammed the turf with his fists thinking his ankle was broken.
But a couple rolls of tape later, Fajardo returned and the rest will go down as history.
That is what leaders do.
One day earlier, the Riders' brass was not quite ready to anoint Fajardo as the face of the franchise.
"This will never be one person's team for as long as I'm the head coach." said Craig Dickenson at Wednesday's pre-game media conference.
"That defeats the purpose of team. This is a collective group of men and if they feel like playing hard for each other, that's the whole idea."
But one man is determined to lead the way, and the rest seem willing to follow.
This Cody Fajardo looks to be a keeper.
Now, about those corn dogs....