ARLINGTON, Texas -- Each time Dak Prescott ran Sunday, Rodney Guin kept thinking back to Haughton, Louisiana.
Prescott was Guin's quarterback at Haughton High School. Prescott could throw it, but since he was "bigger than our linemen," Guin said they would have Prescott run it as many as 20, 25 times a game.
Prescott did not run that many times in the Dallas Cowboys' 40-7 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday, but he had his most rushing attempts as a Cowboy and played a critical role in a win the Cowboys absolutely had to have -- perhaps one that can lift them for a few weeks.
Prescott finished with 11 carries for 82 yards, and his 17-yard touchdown run in the first quarter started an avalanche of success for a Cowboys offense that entered the game in a season-long funk.
"He's a little bit faster than when he played for me," Guin said. "They got him in a little better shape than what we had him."
Prescott's 82 yards are the second most rushing yards by a quarterback in team history, behind Roger Staubach's 90 yards on six carries against the Philadelphia Eagles on Nov. 14, 1971. Prescott's 11 carries tied Steve Pelluer's carry total on Nov. 22, 1987 against the Miami Dolphins for the most in team history.
Some of Prescott's runs were zone-reads, like the touchdown run that was aided by blocks from tight ends Geoff Swaim and Blake Jarwin. Some were scrambles away from a collapsing pocket, like the 28-yarder in the third quarter that helped set up the third of Brett Maher's four field goals to give the Cowboys a 27-7 lead.
"They gave me the opportunity to [run]," Prescott said of the Jacksonville defense. "Honestly, we got a couple of good zone-reads in, breakdowns, and I was able to go. The guys did a good job blocking the perimeter. Other than that they played man coverage and I was able to get out of the pocket and get some green grass and just have some success out of it."
Prescott plays on artificial turf inside AT&T Stadium, but the way he ran made it seem like he was on the grass back at Haughton.
In the first five games, the Cowboys struggled offensively. While Ezekiel Elliott entered the game as the NFL's leading rusher, his yards did not did not open lanes for Prescott in the passing game. Attempting to play a conventional offense has not been fruitful.
When the Cowboys get Prescott involved in the running game, things seem to open up. In the Week 2 win against the New York Giants, he ran seven times for 45 yards.
"Ever since he's been here he's been a guy who's been able to make impact plays with his feet by design but also when plays break down," coach Jason Garrett said.
On Sunday, it opened lanes in the passing game. Prescott completed 17 of 27 passes for 183 yards and threw two touchdown passes to Cole Beasley.
"Dak was unbelievable," right guard Zack Martin said. "Running it, throwing it, controlling the offense. He was outstanding."
But can he keep it up? In six games, Prescott has run 34 times for 203 yards, putting him on pace for 541 yards on 91 carries. In his first two seasons, he carried it 57 times each season for 282 and 357 yards, respectively.
Given the construct of the passing game, the Cowboys need Prescott to be that kind of a weapon in the running game.
"We've got templates for that," owner and general manager Jerry Jones said. "We had it last week there in Houston [with Deshaun Watson], and then we had it in Carolina [with Cam Newton]. They were able to have the quarterback make rushing yardage, and it compromised our defense, and we got a good defense."
But is Jones OK with his quarterback running it that much?
"Yes, I am. I'd rather see him running like that and sliding than getting chipped and nipped away at the ankles and the sacks that come in with what's in that pocket," Jones said. "I'm fine with that. That will basically cause us to open it up. We don't have to rely on that because we've got Zeke when we're at full bore out there. Our antidote for [Dak] is really directly Zeke. We don't have to depend on a lot of downfield connections for those two. You can hand it off to him or you can keep it."
Prescott and Guin still talk often. Prescott found out he would be at the game last week. As Prescott addressed the media Sunday, Guin sat in the front row.
"I wouldn't be in this position without coach," Prescott said, nodding in his direction.
At 3-3 and very much alive in a muddled NFC East picture, the Cowboys wouldn't be in this position without Prescott.
"I told him this week, 'Just be Dak and everything will be fine,'" Guin said. "So that's what he did today."