Fitting end to classic

Blue Bombers receiver Milt Stegall scores a touchdown against the Eskimos last night, tying the...

Blue Bombers receiver Milt Stegall scores a touchdown against the Eskimos last night, tying the all-time CFL touchdown record of 137. (Sun Media/Darryl Dyck)

JIM BENDER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:49 AM ET

EDMONTON -- The good news is that Winnipeg's Milt Stegall tied the CFL's all-time touchdown record.

The bad news is that he did not break it.

The other bad news is that the Blue Bombers did not win.

Nor did they lose.

The Blue Bombers battled to a 39-39 tie in a dramatic CFL season opener for both sides before 33,038 fans at Commonwealth Stadium last night.

"It means a lot," Stegall said of tying the record shared by George Reed and Mike Pringle. "... The fact that I have actually tied a record of two great football players in this league."

On Winnipeg's first possession of overtime, tailback Charles Roberts scored a one-yard touchdown run -- his fourth of the game -- to tie the score 39-39.

"Not a bad way to start off the season, with a tie," said Roberts, who rushed for 93 yards on 17 carries. "We got a point and it's always tough to come into Commonwealth Stadium and play the Eskimos."

Both Winnipeg placekicker Troy Westwood and Edmonton's Sean Fleming missed field goals on their second possessions.

"I blame myself for not winning this game," said Westwood, who missed three field goals. "We really deserved to win it."

Edmonton took first possession in OT and it took Eskimo quarterback Ricky Ray just four plays to complete a 16-yard strike to slotback Jason Tucker to give Edmonton a 39-32 lead.

Stegall tied both the all-time CFL record and the game with a 15-yard touchdown catch from Kevin Glenn with just 31 seconds left in the match -- No. 137. The ensuing convert by Westwood knotted the score at 32-32, sending the match into overtime.

"That's good for our fans to have two opportunities to break the record at home," Roberts said of Stegall, who will go for the record Thursday night at home against the Montreal Alouettes and/or Friday, July 13 against Edmonton. "He's one step closer to breaking it and now he has the chance to do it in front of his family."

Earlier in the fourth quarter, Ray completed a four-yard touchdown strike to former Bomber receiver Kamau Peterson with less than three minutes left to give the Eskimos a 32-25 lead.

Westwood had knotted the game at 25-25 with a 34-yard field goal. Edmonton had taken a 25-22 lead on the last play of the third quarter.

After a stupid penalty for piling on by Bomber defensive end Tom Canada handed Edmonton a first down when it should have been third and long, Edmonton kicker Sean Fleming connected on a 39-yard field goal.

Earlier in the quarter, Bomber punter Pat Fleming had tied the score at 22-22 with a 66-yard single.

The Eskimos were holding on to a slim 22-21 edge heading into the dressing room at the half. In the second quarter, Roberts scored on a pair of one-yard touchdown runs. The first one capped a nine play, 81-yard drive that featured a number of throws to Stegall. After Glenn missed Stegall in the end zone, Roberts scored from the one.

The Bomber scatback's second TD of the quarter and third of the game was more controversial. After the Eskies stuffed Roberts on two straight tries from inside their two, it looked like they may have stopped him again. But the officials signalled touchdown and Edmonton head coach Danny Maciocia challenged. Referee Bud Steen, who took more than the allotted time to check the play, finally ruled that it was inconclusive.

The Bombers had a chance to take a lead into the second half. After Bomber defensive end Gavin Walls recovered a Ricky Ray fumble, Westwood was wide on a 47-yard field goal attempt on the last play of the half.

Sandwiched between the two Roberts scores was a 63-yard TD toss to wide receiver Trevor Gaylor, who had clearly beaten Bomber defensive back Gabriel Fulbright on the play.

Edmonton had taken a 15-7 lead in the first quarter. Ray opened the scoring when he completed a five-yard touchdown pass to running back Tyler Ebell. That capped a seven play, 65-yard TD drive where Ray went 7-for-7 and 65 yards.

Ray later completed another five-yard TD toss to slotback Jason Tucker, capping a 10-play 74-yard drive. Sean Fleming also booted a 63-yard single.


Videos

Photos