BEDFORD — Run through defenders. That’s what Alex Carroll and his fellow Pelham High running backs are all about.
After two years of running through Division III, Pelham did the same after moving up this fall.
Pelham rushed for more than 350 yards in its 35-6 victory over Souhegan in the NHIAA Division II final on Saturday at Bedford High School.
The second-seeded Pythons (12-0) have won 30 straight games and three consecutive state championships. Pelham won both the 2020 and 2021 Division III titles before joining Division II this season.
Fourth-seeded Souhegan (10-2) lost only to the Pythons this fall.
“We just kept putting our nose down, bringing our shoulders down and running through people,” said Carroll, a senior. “That’s how we roll here in Pelham.”
Carroll rushed for 132 yards on 11 carries. Classmate and fullback Ethan Demmons rumbled for 139 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries.
Junior Dom Herrling ran 11 times for 74 yards and a touchdown, caught a 22-yard TD pass from quarterback Jake Travis and logged an interception on defense.
“I think they’re a physical football team so they do a great job getting after it,” Sabers coach Robin Bowkett said. “They make you play sound defense and they make you cover the gaps. Their defense gets a lot of the credit but I don’t think their offense gets enough credit for what they do.”
The Pythons scored the game’s first three touchdowns en route to a 21-6 halftime advantage.
Herrling intercepted Souhegan quarterback Romy Jain to end the Sabers’ opening drive and then ran in a 19-yard touchdown with 8:55 left in the first quarter.
Carroll recovered a Souhegan fumble at the Pelham 15-yard line on the Sabers’ next possession. Demmons capped Pelham’s following six-play drive with a 5-yard TD run and Antonio Furtado made his second of five point-after kicks to build a 14-0 Pelham lead with 4:28 left in the opening frame.
Travis’ 22-yard TD pass to Herrling made it 21-0 Pythons with 9:26 remaining in the half. Souhegan answered with its only touchdown drive, marching 64 yards in 10 plays.
Jain, a sophomore, connected with senior Charlie Maroun (four receptions, 76 yards) for a 5-yard touchdown with 5:21 left in the first half. Pelham blocked Joe Bernasconi’s point-after kick attempt.
Pelham fumbled the ball away on its next two drives but its defense responded by forcing a turnover on downs and getting an end zone interception from Connor Travis.
Bowkett said the Sabers felt they needed to get points on their final first-half drive to have a shot.
The Pythons had possession for all but 1:03 of the third quarter, ending both of their long drives with Demmons scoring on runs of 1 and 4 yards to take a 35-6 lead into the final 12 minutes.
“That’s what we wanted to do was run the clock,” Pelham coach Tom Babaian said. “You have a team that wants to throw, throw, throw and we wanted to limit how many times they could actually throw and that’s what we did.”
Pelham’s defense logged three interceptions, recovered two fumbles and held the Sabers to fewer than 70 yards rushing. Derek Muise recovered a fumble and Carroll nabbed an interception for the Pythons.
Souhegan junior JJ Bright rushed for a team-high 45 yards on 10 carries but a 51-yard run saved him from a negative-yard outing.
Jain went 11 of 25 passing for 147 yards.
Maroun and Brayden Hickman both recovered Pelham fumbles for Souhegan.
Pelham has won five state championships overall, last winning two straight Division V crowns in 2007 and 2008 before this three-year run.
“I think this one means the most,” Babaian said of the program’s third straight title. “Just from what the kids have done over the past three years and, moving forward, I think we’re going to look back at this and say this one was special.”