The old saying goes, ‘good things come to those who wait’ and for Emmanuel Arceneaux it couldn’t have held a higher value Saturday night at BMO Field.
Midway through the fourth quarter the Saskatchewan Roughriders (9-4) were cruising to an eventual 41-16 victory over the Toronto Argonauts to clinch their third consecutive CFL playoff berth.
Quarterback Cody Fajardo would air one out to Arceneaux for a 55-yard touchdown to seal the win.
As the 32-year-old saw his opportunity at what would be his first score in over a year, his excitement before the play and after could not be contained.
“It was an emotional moment,” said Arceneaux, who had not found the end zone since a July 20, 2018, score with the BC Lions, with whom he spent his first eight seasons in the league. “It’s something I can do with my eyes closed but I’ve had to wait so long.
“When I saw the ball up in the air I’m like damn I’m ready to run. I almost ran past the ball.”
After the play in what Fajardo described as “tears in his receivers eyes,” the Alexandria, Louisiana, native was greeted with a product of his own creativity.
The big-play chain.
It’s a nod to the college football craze started by the Miami Hurricanes in which a player who makes a big-play or creates a turnover, proudly wears a piece of jewelry around his neck.
“It’s crazy, because I created it and I hadn’t put it on yet,” said the two-time CFL all-star. “It’s just for the locker room and the team — you need stuff like this to keep guys engaged.”
Arceneaux wasn’t the only Rider who has displayed a great deal of patience with his time north of the border.
Fajardo returned to Toronto as the starter under centre for the first time as he spent the first two seasons of his CFL career with the Argonauts behind all-time great Ricky Ray, winning a Grey Cup title in 2017.
After failing to reach a deal with the Boatmen, the 27-year-old moved out west to BC for one season before landing with the Riders but again found himself as the backup before Zach Collaros went out in week one with a concussion on the opening drive of the new campaign.
Despite leading the game in passing and rushing yards, as well as adding four total touchdowns (3 passing and 1 rushing) the Brea, California, native was more focused on his team’s togetherness and the drought ending for his veteran receiver.
“The love in that locker room, that bond is a lot better than the talent we have and we have a lot of it,” said Fajardo, in his post-game media availability.
“The touchdown that meant the most tonight was Emmanuel’s. It was so emotional to him and that’s what football does to you.”
Saskatchewan returns home next Saturday in a rematch of the Banjo Bowl that was held during Labour Day Weekend against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, where the Riders lost 35-10.
Although the Riders have clinched a playoff place, the top spot in the west division and a bye to the division final, is wide open with six games remaining.
“We’re looking to get that win back against Winnipeg,” said Arceneaux. “We took that lose because we weren’t ready to play but it’s time to knuckle up, we each have a win so it’s for all the marbles, it’s a rival.
“I really want to see how we get up for this game.”