SHREVEPORT, La. — An exhausted and slow-moving Ka’Deem Carey stepped into the interview room at Independence Stadium and almost turned a great day into a legendary day for Arizona Wildcats fans.
The man who jogged off the field about a half-hour earlier to chants of “one more year; one more year” nearly gave all UA fans an early New Year’s present.
Is the running back finished with his UA career or does he have one more year left? Is he going to the NFL or coming back to Tucson for his senior year?
“I’m definitely leaning,” Carey paused, “no way.”
Instead, UA fans would have to settle for one win on the final day of 2013.
But it was a heck of a win.
Carey rushed for 169 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries and led the Wildcats to a 42-19 blowout win over Boston College in the AdvoCare V100 Bowl on Tuesday afternoon in front of an announced crowd of 36,917.
“I’m just focusing on this win, really,” Carey said. “It’s the last game for the seniors, so I’m just soaking that in and I’ll worry about myself later.”
So the running back left some doubt there. But he and the Wildcats (8-5) didn’t leave much doubt elsewhere.
The Canyon del Oro High grad scored the first points of the game when he capped off a four-play, 92-yard drive that ate up just 41 seconds of the clock, with a 2-yard touchdown midway through the first quarter.
It gave the Wildcats a 7-0 lead that they never gave up the rest of the way.
Boston College (7-6) hung around for first 25 minutes, but after a big defensive play from UA’s Will Parks late in the second quarter, it was all Wildcats.
After Boston College kicker Nate Freese hit a pair of field goals to close the UA’s lead to 7-6, Parks, a sophomore safety from Philadelphia, made the game-swinging play. Three plays after UA freshman Nate Phillips fumbled a punt return and gave the ball back to the Eagles, Parks picked off BC quarterback Chase Rettig and returned it 69 yards for a touchdown.
The score, the first of Parks’ career, began a 35-0 run for the Wildcats that spanned 22 minutes.
“On film, we saw that No. 83 ran a lot of outside routes, so when he started juggling his feet, I knew it was an outside route, so I jumped it and picked it,” said Parks, who was named the game’s defensive MVP.
“I heard the crowd go real wild, so I thought, ‘Oh man, I think I did something really good.’ It felt real good once I hit the end zone.”
By the time Trey Griffey caught a 3-yard touchdown pass from B.J. Denker with 13:40 to play in the game, the Wildcats had totally seized control with a 42-6 lead.
The TD toss was Denker’s second of the game — both to Griffey. Denker, a senior from Torrance, Calif., and playing in his final UA game, finished 17 for 24 for 275 yards, two scores and no picks. He also added 51 rushing yards and a touchdown on 14 carries.
Denker was named the offensive MVP.
“He was really sharp mentally and he showed his athletic ability on some of those runs,” UA coach Rich Rodriguez said. “For a second-year player and his first year as a starter, I think he did a lot of great things this year for the U of A.”
So did the guy next to him.
Carey became the school’s all-time leader in all-purpose yards on Tuesday, surpassing Dennis Northcutt. He now has 5,483 yards to go with his school-record 4,239 rushing yards.
He went over 100 yards for a 16th straight game, which is the longest streak in conference history and the longest by any FBS player in the past 10 years. He finished with 1,885 rushing yards this year, after 1,929 in 2012.
Carey also outplayed Boston College’s Andre Williams, who beat Carey out for the Doak Walker Award and was named a finalist for the Heisman Trophy. Williams finished with 75 yards and a score on 26 carries.
“If you look at the numbers, they speak for themselves, obviously,” Denker said. “But aside from that, just watch the film. I had the best seat in the house watching both. I was on the sideline to watch Williams and I’m right behind, watching Carey. How many times, with one guy around him, did Williams get 1 yard or 2 yards?
“And then look on the other side of the football field and you tell me who the better running back is.”
Even Rodriguez, who managed to stay out of the Williams-Carey argument leading up to the game, chimed in with his opinion afterward, calling Carey “the hardest-running running back in the country.”
“And I think he’s the best running back in the country,” added Rodriguez, who grinned. “And he’s still got some things to learn. So another year, he’d be just right.”
But Rodriguez and the Wildcats will worry about Carey’s future another day.
Tuesday, they chose to focus on winning a bowl for the second straight season and sending Denker and the seniors out on a good note.
“It was a nice win for our program,” Rodriguez said. “This is a big, physical football team with a style we don’t see very often. These players came out with great energy from the first snap.”