MIAMI — A fake field goal. A halfback option for a touchdown. A 53-yard catch-and-run on a screen for a score and 78-yard reception by a running back who slipped out wide for another.
Virginia got big plays in bunches Thursday — and needed every one of them to beat Miami.
Michael Rocco passed for 226 yards and two scores and running back Perry Jones threw one touchdown and caught another, as the Cavaliers held off Miami 28-21 to snap a seven-game ACC road losing streak.
"All that matters is the people who believed in this team," Virginia coach Mike London said.
On a night when the explosive play carried the Cavaliers, simple, gritty football saved the day. Linebacker LaRoy Reynolds stopped Miami's Mike James in the backfield on fourth and 2 at the Virginia 15 with 2:10 remaining, and the Cavaliers (5-3, 2-2 ACC) held on from there.
Jacory Harris was 21-of-30 for 311 yards and three touchdowns for Miami (4-4, 2-3), which saw its chances in the Coastal Division take a hit. Tommy Streeter caught seven passes for a career-best 176 yards and two touchdowns.
"I'm tired of doing this," Harris said. "Tired of always having to do a comeback victory. We're always putting ourselves in bad situations. We've got to come out and do better."
Virginia, which led 17-0 in the first half, hadn't won on the road in ACC play since 20-9 over Maryland on Oct. 17, 2009.
Miami took over with 7:12 left needing a touchdown to tie and went 37 yards in nine plays. Reynolds got past the Miami line and wrapped up James on the game's biggest play. Miami didn't get the ball back until 25 seconds remained after a punt.
In all four losses this season, the Hurricanes had chances in the fourth — all those defeats coming in one-possession games in which one failed play made the difference.
"We can't have the penalties and the mental breakdowns that we did," Miami coach Al Golden said.
"We weren't sharp, and we didn't execute as well as we needed to. And that starts with me, period."
Still, the Hurricanes nearly tied it in the final seconds. Harris, looking for Streeter in the end zone, saw a 45-yard pass barely tipped away. After the play, Harris went to the sideline in pain.
Stephen Morris came into the game and got Miami to the 32 with four seconds left. Then he scrambled and found Eduardo Clements inside the Virginia 10 as time expired.
Harris said he was fine after the game, declining to say much in the way of specifics about what ailed him in the final moments. Golden said his quarterback has been aching for the past couple weeks.