WEST HAVEN – Southington receiver and middle linebacker Alex Jamele was the epitome of how the Blue Knights football team performed and dominated on both sides of the ball in their CIAC Class LL semifinal game on Saturday.
Jamele had six receptions for 87 yards, including a pair of touchdown receptions from Yale-bound quarterback Stephen Barmore in the first half , and had a 41-yard interception return for another touchdown to lead No. 4 Southington to a 45-0 win over No. 8 Ridgefield at Ken Strong Stadium.
Running back Tyler Hyde was another offensive standout for the Blue Knights with 163 yards on 26 carries including touchdown runs of 2 and 1 yards.
“There is no better feeling in the world knowing I helped our team get to the state title game,” Jamele said. “We knew we had to come out strong and we did. This was a complete team effort and everyone did their job. Our offensive line was opening holes and our defensive line put pressure on them.”
Southington (11-1) will face No. 7 Fairfield Prep at Arute Field in New Britain on Saturday at 6:05 p.m..
This is the seventh state championship appearance for the Blue Knights (sixth in Class LL, one Class L D-I) with one Class LL title in 1998 (54-26 win over Norwich Free Academy).
In the first half, it was all Southington on both sides of the ball as the Blue Knights took a 31-0 lead at halftime.
The Barmore to Jamele connection started the scoring for the Blue Knights as Jamele caught a 22-yard touchdown pass with 3:20 to go in the first quarter. Kyle Smick’s kick made it 7-0 Southington. Jamele padded the lead when he intercepted Ridgefield quarterback Ryan Dunn and returned the ball 41 yards for a touchdown. Smick’s extra point made it 14-0 with 10:09 left in the second quarter.
“I was looking at the quarterback’s eyes and I just knew where he was going to throw it,” Jamele said.”When he let the ball go I just went for it and made the interception.”
The Jamele show continued when Barmore found his receiver wide open near the 10 yard line and connected for a 29-yard touchdown pass with 6:41 to go in the first half.
Smick was a busy boy, connecting on another extra point for a 21-0 Southington lead and added a 23-yard field goal with 5:26 to go for a 24-0 lead.
The Blue Knights added another score on its next possession when Barmore found receiver Jasen Rose for a 24-yard touchdown with 2:20 to go in the half. Smick’s kick made it 31-0.
In addition to Jamele’s interception return for a TD Steven Hamel had a sack and Andrew Spitz had a fumble recovery (helped set up Smick’s field goal) on the defensive side for Southington.
In the second half, the Tigers (10-3) best shot for a score came in the fourth quarter. Dunn completed a 22-yard pass to Chris Rossini for a first down at the Southington 12 yard line. But four downs later the drive stalled at the 11 and the Blue Knights took over on downs.
Hyde’s first touchdown with 8:29 to go in the third quarter and another with a minute to go in the third with Smick’s kicks provided the final 45-0 score.
“We’ve always taken it one game at a time this season and focused on the game at hand,” Southington coach Mike Drury said. “Now, this is it, the biggest one of them all coming up.”
The bright spot for the Tigers was running back Will Bonaparte who had 24 carries for 170 yards.
Southington 45, Ridgefield 0
(at West Haven)
Ridgefield 0 0 0 0 — 0
Southington 7 24 14 0 — 45
S—Alex Jamele 22 pass from Stephen Barmore (Kyle Smick kick)
S—Alex Jamele 41 int ret (Smick kick)
S—Alex Jamele 29 pass from (Smick kick)
S—Kyle Smick 23 FG
S—Jasen Rose 24 pass from (Smick kick)
S—Tyler Hyde 1 run (Smick kick)
S—Tyler Hyde 2 run (Smick kick)
Team records: Southington 11-1; Ridgefield 10-3.