No drought about it

GERRY PRINCE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 10:22 AM ET

WINNIPEG -- The six-year drought in Manitoba is finally over.

Mike Bradley ran for his first CFL rushing touchdown and Jason Tucker reeled in a team-record 105-yard TD pass as the Edmonton Eskimos rolled over the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 27-8 last night.

A crowd of 22,087 was in the stands at CanadInns Stadium to witness the Green and Gold put the brakes on a six-game losing skid in the 'Peg.

According to head coach Danny Maciocia, Bradley figured to get the ball four to five times a game this season playing behind feature back Elvis Joseph.

But after Joseph left the game with a rib injury in the opening quarter, the 26-year-old Bradley became the Esks' tailback by default.

"We struggled a bit at the beginning and tonight I was just one part of that 12-man puzzle on the offence," beamed the five-foot-eight, 205-pound back who finished the night with 13 carries for 75 yards.

"The offensive line did a great job. Everybody handled their responsibilities and we clicked."

Bradley notched the Esks first major after taking the handoff from starter Ricky Ray and rambling 60 yards into the end zone.

"That's the first time since (university) that I spent that much time in the backfield, and I have to admit it felt great," offered Bradley, who returned a Winnipeg kickoff for his first CFL touchdown two seasons ago.

Joseph will be evaluated by the team's medical staff today and could be a scratch for Week 3. Scatback Ron McLendon has been on the injured list and could be added to the roster.

"He's a guy who doesn't get a lot of reps in practice," said Ray, who had a career night which saw him complete 28 of 40 passes for 469 yards.

"He had that great play at the beginning that gave us the lead and let our defence play aggressive. I'm just happy for Mike."

Ahead 10-1 after 30 minutes, Ray dialed long distance and hooked up with Jason Tucker for the record pass-and-run play. The play eclipsed the previous franchise record of 102 yards shared by Tucker and Henry Williams.

"Things are just going good," said Tucker, who left Blue Bomber defenders Wes Lysak and Justin Coleman in the dust as he sprinted up field.

"We're just playing good as a team and that's the main thing. As long as you come out with a win. It's an honour to be in the record books. There's been a lot of good receivers to come through the Edmonton Eskimos organization."

Ray hit slotback Derrell Mitchell with a 19-yard TD strike late in the fourth quarter and kicker Sean Fleming chipped in with a pair of field goals.

The Bombers got their only major following a blocked punt late in the third quarter while punter Jon Ryan kicked in with a 79-yard punt single.

The Esks chartered home immediately after last night's game, and face the Montreal Alouettes a week from today at Percival Molson Stadium.

TOUGH TIME FOR TEE: It was a tough night at the office for Tee Martin.

The rookie quarterback could do little to spark the Bombers offence versus the Eskimos in his CFL debut last night.

The 26-year-old completed just 12 of 29 pass attempts and generated just 146 net yards of total offence last night.

Edmonton, meanwhile, powered by Ricky Ray's passing, generated 576 net yards.

"I feel optimistic and I want to get better," said Martin, who played behind Peyton Manning at the University of Tennessee before leading the Volunteers to a national title in 1998.

"I have no choice. That's not me at all. I don't know if it rates as one of my worst performances ever. I have the resolve and the response to come back and do better."

With Kevin Glenn hobbled by a high ankle sprain, Martin could make as many as five more starts for the struggling Blue Bombers.

For the second straight week, Edmonton's sack attack was in high gear. Martin was sacked a total four times in the opening half and six times on the night.

Singor Mobley got in Martin's grill twice, while four other Esk defenders also bull-dogged Martin.

"It was everything I expected it to be," he said. "Edmonton was a really good team. They're fast up front.

"We knew that from watching them on tape last week. Going into the game, we knew we were going to have to handle those guys up front. They did what they did good and that's get to the quarterback."

ONE FOR THE BOOKS: Sean Fleming was good on 28- and 47-yards to pass Dave Cutler's career field goal list with 465.

"I wasn't really paying attention to the record," said Fleming. "But if you play long enough, those are going to fall. I've had lot of opportunities to kick field goals. Dave Cutler was a great Edmonton Eskimo player, so it's really nice to do that."


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