Knox ended with 33 yards on a pair of receptions, Dane Sanzenbacher added 50 yards on four grabs, while Nathan Enderle went 6-of-13 for 67 yards in a backup role.
Jarrett Brown totaled 92 yards, one score and an interception on 10-of-15 efficiency for the Browns, who also open up two Sundays from now at home against rival Cincinnati.
Armond Smith totaled 47 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries and Rod Windsor posted 55 yards and a TD reception on three catches.
A 22-yard Robbie Gould make plus Knox's 19-yard grab -- made in double coverage on a fine throw from Hanie -- staked the Bears to a 10-0 lead after one quarter.
Hughes rolled in from the two in the second period, before Smith's six-yard run to paydirt got Cleveland within 17-7 at the break.
Windsor's 38-yard reception from Brown pulled the visitors within a score, but Hughes capped the night with a one-yard scoring rush.