ATLANTA - The second annual Rising Seniors Junior Bowl game, which took place Friday at 7PM at Grady Stadium in Atlanta, pitted the top 90 junior prospects in Georgia against each other. It was the culmination of a week-long educational program founded by former NFL players Izell Reese and Joe Burns, designed to give football prospects a head start on life. The game was also aired live nationally on ESPN3.
The West won out 27-20 over the East Friday, with Newnan defensive back Tray Matthews making multiple key plays to help his squad win out. Matthews, currently committed to Georgia, is known for his big hits across the middle, but in this game he made his presence known on special teams as well.
With the game tied 14-14 in the second quarter, the 6-foot-1, 190-pound junior returned a kickoff 93 yards for a touchdown to give his team the lead. Matthews made a big play again in the third quarter, blocking an extra point attempt that would have tied the game.
“I just tried to show everyone in the country what Newnan fans already knew,” Matthews said. “I can do more than just play safety. I plan to be the next Brandon Boykin at Georgia, maybe even better.”
The surprise performance of the game was that of Alpharetta quarterback Joshua Dobbs, who completed 20 of 31 passes for 227 yards and three touchdowns while also rushing three times for 40 yards to keep the East squad in the game. With college coaches likely watching the game, Dobbs hopes his success today will help kickstart his recruitment.
“It was amazing to come out here and perform against all of these D-1 athletes,” Dobbs said. “I think I showed that I can play with anyone, and really this just felt like another high school game. I played against pretty good competition at Alpharetta, so it was not difficult to adjust to the talent level.”
Walton running back Tyren Jones sealed the victory for the West with a 44-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. The state’s leading rushing this past season with 2,356 yards, Jones was also the leading rusher Friday, with seven rushes for 59 yards. He told DawgNation he plans on attending a junior day at Georgia on Jan. 28.
The West is now 2-0 in the game, also winning the inaugural matchup last year 20-18.
Unofficial game notes
-While the West won the game, it couldn’t get anything going in the air, with the East holding it to only 105 yards passing.
-The leading tackler for the game was Troup County defensive back Cortez Leonard, with 10 total tackles. He also made the game’s only interception.
-The leading tackler for the East team was Camden County linebacker Jarrad Davis, with eight total tackles.
-Milton defensive end Carl Lawson and Lovejoy defensive end Arshad Jackson each led their teams with one sack each.
-North Gwinnett athlete Donnie Miles, known for making plays at running back, led both squads with four passes broken up at safety.
-Norcross athlete Alvin Kamara, who came into the game as a running back, transitioned to wide receiver and led both teams with eight catches for 115 yards.
-Matthews had a game high 165 yards from scrimmage, with 147 coming on three kickoff returns, along with an 18-yard punt return.