Seffner (Fla.) Armwood fell short 17-14 in the Class 4A State Championship on Saturday afternoon falling to Tallahassee (Fla.) Lincoln. Both of Armwood's scores came on the shoulders of junior running back Matt Jones. Jones rushed for 147 yards and two touchdowns on 19 carries while pulling in three receptions for 51 yards.
Despite his major offensive contribution, penalities and miscues plagued Armwood and eventually played into them falling short.
"Penalties killed us and in a big game you can't have that many penalties," Jones said. "Penalties and turnovers, those are the things that can kill you. We came up short on big plays. We just came up short."
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Instead of shedding tears after the loss, the 6-foot-2, 220-pound back said he was determined to return to the 2011 state championship and be the team hoisting the trophy.
"We are going to come in and we are going to work hard," Jones said. "I know Tallahassee Lincoln is having a good time right now. Our players are looking at that. It is going to just make us work even harder to get back here and this moment, but on that side of things.
"I am going to be working out a lot and trying to get better," Jones added. "I am going to spend more time with my teammates and get closer with them. We are just going to try to get back here next year."
Away from the field, Jones has already earned a fair share of early interest. He has been verbally offered by schools such as Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Oregon, South Carolina, Southern Cal, and Wisconsin.
He has previously visited Georgia, Florida, and Notre Dame but as of right now isn't sure where he will be heading to visit in the coming spring and summer months.
"I don't know about visits right now," Jones said.
While Jones contends he hasn't given the process much attention, he said three schools do stand out to him for one reason or another.
"I am still looking a lot at Georgia, Oregon, and Southern Cal," Jones said.
One of those schools, Georgia, has been the early leader for Jones for months. That remains the case.
"They are still real high for me," Jones said. "Probably every two weeks I get a call from the running backs coach, Coach (Bryan) McClendon. We just talk about going through the season. We talk to each other about how life is going and things like that."
One in-state school has slipped some for him recently with their coaching changes.
"Since Urban Meyer retired I have gotten low on Florida," Jones said. "I haven't heard from them since. I don't know much about (new head coach Will Muschamp). I would like to get to know him."
While he hasn't heard of Coach Muschamp, the news that the Gators offense will likely transition to being a more pro-style offense is appealing to Jones who says he definitely would prefer to play in such a scheme.
"They have a year so I am just going to be watching them and see how things change," Jones said.
Another staff that recently saw changes at the top was the University of Miami. Jones has yet to hear from Al Golden since his hire in Coral Gables.
"I haven't heard from him yet either," Jones said. "I do want to get to know him also."
While the Bulldogs are at the top for his services at this time, Jones admits that there remains a lot of time between now and when he intends to make his decision.
"I probably won't make a decision until after my senior season."
As a junior, Jones carried the ball 215 times for 1,447 yards and 26 touchdowns. He also had 14 receptions for 268 yards and three touchdowns.