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October 1, 2011Tweet Follow @InsideTheGators
TAMPA, Fla. - Matt Jones looked around at halftime and didn't like what he saw.
In his second game back from a torn meniscus, the four-star Florida running back commit had just seven carries for 12 yards, a dropped pass and a fumble.
"First half I felt like I played a little down on myself, feeling sorry for myself," Jones said. "But I had to overcome that and be a leader and step up."
His teammates agreed. Jones said they told him to be himself and run harder - both criticisms that he admitted fired him up.
On his first carry of the second half, the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Seffner Armwood back rumbled up the middle for 53 yards and was only a Tyriq McCord arm tackle and a still-swollen knee away from his second touchdown of the night.
"I couldn't break that run because I couldn't really extend my knee," Jones said. "It's about 90 percent. I stay in the ice machine every night. It's going down day by day."
McCord -- the Rivals100 defensive end from Tampa Jefferson and good friend of Jones - had a strong night despite his team's 20-0 loss to Florida's No. 2-ranked high school program.
On Jones' fifth carry of the game in the first half, the 6-foot-3, 222-pound candidate for Florida's Buck position blew through the Armwood line and nailed Jones for a four-yard loss. The hit was a momentary momentum boost for the Dragons. But it eventually served as a wake-up call for the Hawk's prized back.
"I had to go pump him back into reality a little bit," McCord said. "It probably did give him a wake-up call and rush harder than he had before. That's all we want. Good competition, and he did his thing out there."
By night's end, Jones had 13 carries for 89 yards -- not a top-tier performance for a player who ran for 1,438 yards and 26 touchdowns as a junior, but not bad considering the circumstances.
"He's getting better," Armwood head coach Sean Callahan said. "It's going to take time. He hadn't done anything since the middle of June. We're not worried about him. He made some plays tonight."
Also making plays on Friday for the Hawks was 2013 wide receiver prospect Alvin Bailey, who made had the highlight of the night with an 88-yard touchdown run on a wildcat zone read play in the second half.
"At the beginning, I had my mind set," Bailey said. "'Give it to Matt Jones. Give it to Matt Jones.' And then when I saw they sent three dudes down, I just had to pull it and had to be a playmaker. I cut it to the outside. I've just got to give it to the O-line and the receivers for having good blocks."
Jones had nothing but good to say about his junior teammate and even had a message for Gainesville regarding the electric wide out.
"Hey, tell everyone in Gator land they need to give my boy an offer," he yelled in passing after the game.
Defensively, the Hawks were dominant, pitching a shutout against an offense that featured three-star wide receiver Adrian Jenkins. Helping lead the way was safety Leon McQuay III, who was disappointed in himself despite a solid performance.
"I played alright," the 2013 prospect who holds a UF offer said. "I dropped an interception, a pick-six actually. I wanted it too much. It's because I know the team can play a lot, a lot better than what we do. I just want us to get to where we need to be."
Armwood will move on to play Tampa Sickles next week, but before then Jones will be in Gainesville Saturday for the Florida-Alabama game. McQuay might be joining him.
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