WEST HAVEN -- Beating the top-ranked team in the state quarterfinals four days earlier was probably the best thing that has happened to the Ridgefield High football program in 11 years. In the end, however, following Saturday's 45-0 loss to Southington in the Class LL semifinals, last Tuesday's triumph might have been the worst thing that could have happened to the Tigers.

"We took down No. 1 and then everyone was congratulating us and patting us on the back, and I think mentally we just checked out," Ridgefield quarterback Ryan Dunn said Saturday referring to Tuesday's 35-33 win over previously undefeated Newtown. "We were more pumped up for Newtown. I didn't feel we had the same swagger today. Maybe we looked past this game."

As emotionally high as the eighth-seeded Tigers (10-3) were Tuesday, they lacked spunk against No. 4-seed Southington (11-1), which will face Fairfield Prep next Saturday (6 p.m.) at Central Connecticut State University in the final.

"I think we gave so much this season that we just emptied out against Newtown," Ridgefield coach Kevin Callahan said. "After Tuesday, we were empty."

The satisfaction from upsetting Newtown may have had something to do with Saturday's result. Southington's dominating, 24-point second quarter or the 4-0 turnover margin in Southington's favor might have been factors, too.

"It was a bad day to have a bad day against a really good team," Callahan said.

Southington receiver Alex Jamele caught his 25th and 26th touchdowns this season to break the state record and also returned an interception for a score while Tyler Hyde added 153 rushing yards and two TDs for the Blue Knights.

"I made a bunch of mistakes but it was a team loss," said Dunn who was pressured virtually every time he tried to pass. "I think the interception return is what really deflated us."

After Jamele caught a 22-yard touchdown from Stephen Barmore (14 for 26, 192 yards, three TDs), Jamele intercepted a Dunn pass and returned it 40 yards for a 14-0 second-quarter lead. Eight minutes later it was 31-0.

"That was a huge play," Jamele said. "The pass rush was the key on that play. Putting pressure on (Dunn) was a big part of our game plan."

The other part was stopping Ridgefield running back Will Bonaparte. Getting a big, early lead was just what Blue Knights coach Mike Drury wanted because it lessened the impact of Bonaparte, who entered the game with 1,525 rushing yards. He had a solid day with 168 yards on 24 carries but much came after the Tigers had fallen way behind.

"Bonaparte is a great back and we had to contain him," Drury said. "We bent but didn't break. And while we had just two sacks, we made (Dunn) feel uncomfortable. It was a great job by the defense."

Ridgefield had 222 total yards as Dunn (9 for 23) was held to just 46 yards passing.

"The pressure was always on me, even on quick-out passes," Dunn said. "I was battling the wind all day, too, but even when we were going with the win the balls were sailing."

Two second-half touchdowns by Hyde completed the scoring and left a bad taste in the collective mouths of the Tigers . . . for now.

"They'll get a chance to let the sting wear off," Callahan said, "and then they'll realize how much they accomplished this season."

Class LL semifinals

RIDGEFIELD 0 0 0 0--0

SOUTHINGTON 7 24 14 0--45

S--Alex Jamele, 22 pass from Stephen Barmore (Kyle Smick kick)

S--Jamele, 40 interception return (Smick kick)

S--Jamele, 29 pass from Barmore (Smick kick)

S--Smick, 22 field goal

S--Jason Rose, 24 pass from Barmore (Smick kick)

S--Tyler Hyde, 1 run (Smick kick)

S--Hyde, 2 run (Smick kick)

Records: Ridgefield 10-3, Southington 11-1