Ryan Prout has a nickname.
The Point Pleasant Boro senior running back is known as the Horse.
“Feed the horse,” one teammate shouted as the 6-foot-1, 220-pounder muscled for a 7-yard gain in the fourth quarter.
Prout rushed for 118 yards and one touchdown on 24 carries, powering the Panthers past Barnegat, 23-13, in Shore Conference Class B South on Friday night.
“Coach (Sean) Henry began calling me the Horse this year,” Prout said. “I like it. It’s not extraordinary. I get the ball a lot and pound it through. At the beginning of the year, the coaches said I would be getting the ball at least 20 times per game. I know our offensive line will get the job done. I love getting the ball and running behind it.”
While playing defensive end, Prout in the second quarter reinjured a right high ankle sprain suffered earlier this season against Central Regional. Prout was helped off the field in obvious pain.
“It was pretty bad,” he said. “I twisted it up. I was in sudden pain. I got caught under a pile. It twisted in and it folded. At first, I did not know what to think. I was not able to put pressure on it right away.
“The coaches said, ‘You have to go back in. We need you.’ I was able to play through it.”
“We made eye contact and I said, ‘We need you,’ ” Henry said. “He said, ‘I’m here for you.’ “
Running behind the blocks of senior left tackle Brian Cuthbert and junior left guard C.J. Griffith, Prout plowed through the middle for the go-ahead touchdown with 1:28 left in the third quarter, battering the Bengals from 8 yards and putting the Panthers in front, 19-13. Senior Brett Blank kicked the extra point for a 20-13 lead.
“It was a basic play to the left,” Prout said. “There was a good hole. I broke a tackle and just brought it to the end zone.”
Prout set up the score with a 40-yard run up the middle to the Bengals’ 8-yard line and scored on the following play.
“I cut back,” he said. “I had a lot of daylight. I tried to protect the ball and run as hard as I could. (Barnegat defensive back Pat) Moran is fast. I knew he would catch up to me, especially with my ankle.”
Prout is the first to admit he is not blessed with the speed of a sprinter.
“I know I won’t outrun people,” he said. “I lower my pads and run through people. I use my lower body with my big legs. When I get to the second level of the defense, there are not a lot of smaller kids who are able to bring me down.
“I love running with the ball. I was never a running back until my freshman year. I am not the fastest kid, but I love running over people. My time in the 40-yard dash is 4.8. It’s not spectacular.”