The record-setting kicker drilled a 33-yard field goal with 20 seconds left
to lift the Cardinals to a 41-38 victory over stunned Rutgers on Thursday, upstaging
the going away party of hometown kid Brian Brohm.
"I couldn't ask for a better ending," Carmody said. "One of my goals when I came here was kicking a game-winning field goal. I had to come down to the last quarter, the last play."
The senior, who set an NCAA record for career points by a kicker, had never made one like this during his career. He went out in style though, calmly drilling the ball through the uprights.
Carmody finished his career with 433 points, breaking the old record held by Houston's Roman Anderson, who had 423 points for the Cougars from 1988-91.
Carmody's feat wouldn't have been possible without Brohm, who threw for 237 yards, including a 46-yard strike to Harry Douglas to put Carmody in range to win it.
"We just wanted to send everybody out the right way," said Brohm, who threw for a touchdown and ran for another. "We talked about regaining Papa John's, the 20-game home winning streak, all the excitement that was in the stadium. We wanted to get it back one last time."
The Cardinals (6-6, 3-4 Big East) got it back with a stunning comeback from 18 points down in the second half, one that was similar to the rally Rutgers (7-5, 3-4) put together to upset the Cardinals last year.
Louisville was ranked No. 3 last season when it went to Rutgers, and had just knocked off West Virginia. But the Cardinals let an 18-point lead slip away, ruining their shot at a perfect season.
The Cardinals have been far from perfect this year, but Brohm and couple of late stands by one of the nation's worst defenses left Louisville with remote hopes for a bowl bid.
"A fitting end to the way the season went," said Louisville coach Steve Kragthorpe. "We never seemed to be able to make a play through the season to put us over the top, but we did that tonight."
Brohm and Carmody had plenty of help. Brock Bolen ran for 117 yards and two touchdowns and Bilal Powell added 91 yards as the Cardinals offset a fierce Rutgers pass rush by running quick-hit plays right by the blitzing Scarlet Knights.
Ray Rice ran for 120 yards and three scores for Rutgers. Mike Teel threw for 265 yards and two touchdowns to Kenny Britt, but Rutgers couldn't find a way to stop Brohm and the Cardinals in the second half.
"You have a quarterback like Brian Brohm and you have those receivers, at no point is it ever out of reach for those guys," said Rutgers coach Greg Schiano. "In the second half, we just never really had a feel. I was a step behind, it felt like."
For three quarters Rutgers, which accepted a bid to the International Bowl earlier in the day, hardly seemed content to enjoy the program's third straight bowl appearance. Schiano opened up the playbook, and the Scarlet Knights had little trouble taking command.
Offensive tackle Jeremy Zuttah rumbled 13 yards on a lateral pass, and little-used freshman quarterback Chris Paul-Etienne came in to throw a bomb to Britt. The pass was incomplete, but Louisville's Rod Council was called for pass interference - one of nine Louisville penalties on the night. Rice strolled in from 14 yards out to put the Scarlet Knights up 21-3 late in the first quarter.
Kragthorpe had hoped the Cardinals would rally around the team's 17 seniors, many of whom helped propel Louisville to unprecedented heights over the last four years.
Instead, the Cardinals played most of the first 45 minutes with the same inconsistency that plagued them throughout a nightmarish season in which they fell from the preseason Top 10 to the bottom of the conference.
In the end, however, the Cardinals finally played with the urgency they've lacked all year. The defense slowed down the Scarlet Knights in the final quarter, and Brohm went to work.
Bolen ran in from 5 yards out to cut it to 35-24. A Jeremy Ito field goal pushed the lead to 38-24 early in the fourth quarter, but the Cardinals kept coming.
Powell streaked in from 18 yards get within 38-31. Another stop led to Bolen's second touchdown, which tied the game at 38 with 8:37 to go.
The teams traded punts, but Louisville wasted little time once it got the ball back with 3:22 to play. Brohm hit Douglas to get to the Rutgers 18, setting the stage for Carmody.
"It's frustrating, but hats off to them," Schiano said. "They found a way to win when we didn't. That's the way it goes."