Capital gains

GERRY PRINCE -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 12:33 AM ET

OTTAWA -- The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. That bit of home-spun wisdom isn't lost on Edmonton Eskimos return specialist Tony Tompkins.

Unfortunately, in Tompkins's line of work, there's always a dozen angry men forcing him to take the long way around.

But try as they might, the Ottawa Renegades couldn't corral Tompkins in the second quarter of last night's CFL fixture at Frank Clair Stadium.

Tompkins fielded a Pat Fleming punt and raced 96 yards for a major as the visiting Esks hung on to down the locals 29-21 before a crowd of 17,607.

"Taking the long way is getting real tiresome. If they keep making blocks like that, I have to get it when it comes," beamed Tompkins, who had a 95-yard punt return for a TD against Montreal in Week 3. The 21-year-old copped special team player of the week honours for Week 4 with a stellar performance against Winnipeg, and led the CFL in return yardage heading into last night's tilt.

"That kid's pretty special," sighed Ottawa head coach Joe Paopao. "He made some people miss and he was just unbelievable at times. We tried to pin (him) close to the sidelines and out of bounds. The guys downfield gave him a crease to run. He was running like Houdini out there."

INTO TOP SPOT

The victory allowed the Esks to improve their seasonal log to 4-1-0, and move into top spot in the CFL Western Division.

"Tony is getting a feel for this game now," said rookie Esks head coach Danny Maciocia, who was without the services of wide receiver Ed Hervey and cornerback Davis Sanchez.

"He's really, really patient with setting up his blocks. That's a credit to him, the guys throwing the blocks and the guys putting the schemes together."

Fresh off the worst outing of his career, Esks starter Ricky Ray completed 20 of 30 passes for 233 yards and avoided being picked off.

Ray fired a 25-yard TD strike to Jason Tucker in the second quarter and hooked up with Trevor Gaylor for a 37-yarder in the third quarter.

Ron McClendon finished the night with 57 rushing yards on nine carries, including a 14-yard first-quarter ramble for his second major of the season.

"The coaches had a great game plan and we had confidence in each other," he said. "It shows."

With Ottawa kicker Matt Kellett nursing a groin injury, punter Pat Fleming was forced to handle all the hoofing duties for the Renegades.

The 26-year-old's first field goal wobbled low and wide of the uprights but still skittered through the end zone for a single.

His second, a 36-yard effort on the final play of the opening half, also sailed wide of the mark. "I knew I was doing kickoffs and found out I was doing field goals in pre-game," said the dejected kicker. "I just didn't get it done."

Following a 35-yard touchdown run by tailback Josh Ranek in the third quarter, Ottawa's substitute kicker hit from 12 yards to narrow the Green and Gold's lead to 29-12.

WIDE OF THE MARK

Esks kicker Sean Fleming shanked his only three-point attempt of the night wide of the mark. The miss went for a 48-yard single at 8:31 of the first quarter.

Ottawa mounted a promising drive midway through the fourth quarter but ended up turning the ball over on downs when the Esks' defence stalled the drive.

The Renegades made things interesting as Kerry Joseph tossed a 20-yard touchdown pass to Pat Woodcock at 13:47 of the final frame.

POINTS AFTER: Esks rookie receiver Chris Kelley injured his left knee and ankle on the second play of the game. The injury had Tompkins lining up at Kelley's spot.


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