The big plays started right away, as Tracy Howard stepped in front of a pass on the first play of the game and returned it 19 yards for a touchdown.
After Virginia drove down and kicked a field goal to make it 7-3, Miami's offense struck. Stephen Morris threw a quick pass to Stacy Coley, who raced 62 yards for a touchdown to give Miami a 14-3 lead. Morris finished the game with 214 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception. Coley caught five passes for 81 yards and that one score.
Virginia answered again at the end of the first quarter when David Watford connected with running back Kevin Parks on a screen pass that Parks took 24 yards for a score. That cut Miami's lead to 14-10. Watford finished the game with just 106 passing yards, while Parks totaled 136 yards of offense on the day.
After Virginia added a field goal in the second quarter they got the ball back and were driving deep into Miami territory just before halftime. It looked as though the Cavs were about to take the lead when a Watford pass went off a receiver's fingers and landed into the hands of Ladarius Gunter, who took it all the way back to the Virginia one-yard line. Dallas Crawford, who ran for 55 yards and two scores on the day, scored from a yard out to make it 21-13 at halftime.
A Matt Goudis 33-yard field goal extended Miami's lead to 24-13 in the third quarter and then Morris later found Allen Hurns for a 26-yard touchdown strike to make it 31-13. Hurns finished the game with six catches for 126 yards and a score.
Virginia cut it to 31-20 early in the fourth before another Crawford touchdown extended Miami's lead to 38-20. Virginia was on the move again midway through the fourth when Tyriq McCord's sack caused a fumble that was picked up by David Gilbert and returned 72 yards for Miami's second defensive score of the day.
Virginia's Tequan Mizzell added a late touchdown to cut Miami's lead to 45-26 before Olsen Pierre blocked the extra point.
The win sends Miami to 8-3 overall, and 4-3 inside the conference. They will travel to Pittsburgh next week with a chance to still play in the ACC Championship Game. The Hurricanes need to beat Pittsburgh and hope that North Carolina beats Duke and Virginia beats Virginia Tech.