The Saskatchewan Roughriders welcomed the Hamilton Tiger-Cats to Mosaic Stadium Saturday night to start the 2022 CFL season. The Riders would start out slow, having only a 6-3 lead at halftime, before pouring things on in the fourth quarter, scoring 18 points en route to a 30-13 victory.
“It felt good to finish, and that was one of our big talks offensively, and Coach (Jason) Maas implemented with our offence – that finish was the word of the year,” said Riders quarterback Cody Fajardo. “To have that kind of come full circle for that first game, it really shows guys that it means a lot.”
Fajardo would finish the game going 22-for-32 for 311 yards and a touchdown through the air. He added another touchdown on the ground.
Saskatchewan took the lead in the first quarter when Brett Lauther kicked a 13-yard field goal when a drive was snuffed out deep in Hamilton territory. The Tiger-Cats would tie things up before the end of the first quarter, with the teams switching sides at a 3-3 deadlock.
In the second quarter, the Riders would take the lead with 2:44 to play when Lauther kicked his second field goal of the game. He was good from 48 yards out.
Saskatchewan was to receive the ball to start the second half, but a fumble by returner Jamal Morrow put the visitors at the Saskatchewan 32-yard line. The Riders' defence would stand tall and were also benefited by a holding penalty that negated a touchdown. Hamilton would settle for a field goal and the game was tied 6-6.
Lauther’s third field goal of the game, with 7:02 to play in the third quarter, would restore the lead for the Riders, and then his fourth, four minutes later, from 39 yards out, but Saskatchewan up 12-6.
Lauther’s leg would help out the Riders again in the fourth quarter.
Saskatchewan gained possession of the ball at the Hamilton 53 when Rolan Milligan sacked Hamilton quarterback Dane Evans near midfield and forced the ball free. Charleston Highes would recover the ball at the Hamilton 45, and moved it up two yards, but an illegal block penalty brought it back to the Hamilton 53.
The offence would move the ball up to the 18-yard line, but a roughing penalty on Shaq Evans would see the ball moved back to the 33, which set Lauther up for a 41-yard field goal, which was good.
Hamilton would score the first touchdown of the game with 7:28 to play in the fourth when Evans threw a pass to Steven Dunbar. He would scamper 45 yards after making the catch for the major, pulling the Tiger-Cats to within two.
Ahead 15-13, the Riders would get the ball at their own 25-yard line after the kickoff. Saskatchewan marched down the field, taking up killing time off the clock in the process. Fajardo led the team to the Hamilton 20. Then, he found Kian Schaffer-Baker in the end zone from 20 yards out, giving the Riders their first touchdown of the game, and putting them up 21-13. The extra point made it 22-13.
On the first play after the ensuing kick-off, Derrick Moncrief picked off Evans at the Hamilton 40-yard line and got to the Tiger-Cats' 1-yard line before he was pushed out of bounds by the Hamilton quarterback. On the next play, Fajardo punched it in himself to put Saskatchewan up 28-13. A successful two-point conversion made it a 30-13 score, which is where things would stand.
The Riders will now prepare for the Edmonton Elks. The Riders will take on their West Division rivals next Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton.