CUYAHOGA FALLS — Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy first made the football playoffs in 2003.
That year, and in the following six playoff appearances, the Royals went one-and-done.
Maybe all CVCA needed to do to break through with its first playoff win was to come home.
On a chilly night at Royals Stadium Saturday, the party at midfield after the game proved to be worth the 16-year wait for CVCA.
The Royals dominated all three phases of the game, routing Salem 40-8 in a Division IV, Region 13 regional quarterfinal contest.
CVCA improved to 8-3 on the season and advances to face Perry — which eliminated the Royals last year — in regional semifinal game next Saturday. Top-seed Perry defeated Girard 48-7 Saturday.
Salem finished the season at 8-3.
Royals coach Dan Larlham was dancing with a whistle after the game as the whole CVCA community joined him after the win.
"If you’re standing on the logo tonight, you were part of history," Larlham said.
Larlham said CVCA was locked in from the beginning of the week for the game.
"We had a phenomenal week of practice," Larlham said. "They were practicing this week like they wanted a Week 12 game. They were locked in from the start. I hope they’re as locked in this week if they want to get to week 13."
Salem coach Ron Johnson said the Quakers did not play clean enough to win.
"We continuously shot ourself in the foot tonight," Johnson said. "We had as many turnovers tonight as we had all season."
CVCA had a 3-1 edge in turnovers to go along with a 282-57 edge in rushing yards.
Royals quarterback Michael Bevington was the star of the game. The junior ran 24 times for a game-high 150 yards and two touchdowns along with a 6-of-11 passing effort for 109 yards and a touchdown.
"Best player on the field," Larlham said of Bevington. "That’s been the case every week this season. He’s so tough and he’s such a great athlete."
"It means everything," Bevington said of the win. "This whole season we’ve been a second-half team. Tonight, we wanted to come out early and take control."
CVCA did just that, marching the the opening kickoff down the field to score. Bevington capped the drive with a 1-yard touchdown plunge.
Bevington said a big part of his big night was having running back Shane Douglas come back from injury.
"I trust him out there," Bevington said of Douglas. "He’s just an animal running the ball."
Douglas erupted for CVCA’s next touchdown, as he run in a 34-yard run with 5:13 left in the first quarter.
Douglas ran 14 times for 106 yards and one score in the win.
Down 14-0, Salem looked to have an answer brewing, but Quakers quarterback Jackson Johnson was picked off in the end zone by CVCA’s Austen Williams late in the first quarter.
"When Austen made that pick, I knew it was going to be a good night," Larlham said.
CVCA got its next two scores off of turnovers. A muffed punt by the Quakers was recovered by CVCA’s Kyle Snyder at the Salem 19 with 7:57 left in the half.
That led to Bevington’s second rushing touchdown on a 2-yard plunge with 5:51 left in the half.
After Salem’s Cade Campolito fumbled, Bevington found Andre Price Jr. with a 13-yard touchdown pass with 47 seconds left in the first half.
Campolito was held to just 33 yards on the night.
Junior Brice Kightlinger accounted for all of CVCA’s second half points.
Kightlinger nailed a pair of field goals to help CVCA invoke the running clock rule. He kicked a 20-yard field goal with 4:21 left in the third.
That field goal was set up by CVCA’s biggest play of the night when Bevington hit Lucas Nowosielski with a 64-yard bomb only to have a shoestring tackle keep Nowosielski out of the end zone as he was tripped up at the Quaker 2.
Kightling then hit a field goal from 24 yards out with 9:18 left in the game to make it 34-0.
With CVCA sending its reserve players in, Kightlinger scored a 10-yard touchdown run with 7:17 left in the game from his position as backup quarterback. The extra point failed.
Salem was able to avoid the shutout when Jackson Johnson hit Jax Booth with a 14-yard touchdown pass with 24 seconds left.
When looking ahead to a week 12 game for the first time in school history, Larlham said "Why not?" when asked he wanted another shot at Perry. The Pirates defeated CVCA 49-34 in the regional quarterfinals a year ago.
After starting in last year’s playoff game, Bevington admitted he wanted to get another shot at Perry "so bad."
"We want our revenge on Perry from last year," he said.
Reporter Michael Leonard can be reached at 330-541-9442, firstname.lastname@example.org or @MLeonard_GHO