A fantastic goal just before half time was the difference on Boxing Day derby day as Preston returned to winning ways to cement their place in the play-off places.
The Cumbrians enjoyed the lion's share of the possession but Brownhill's dipping top corner curler ended the home run of six games without defeat on what became a frustrating day for the home side.
United had the first chance of the afternoon when Morris floated a deep free kick into the box. O'Hanlon was up to meet it but his header from the edge of the area was right at Rudd.
A direct run from Amoo followed as he found space on the flank and it needed a hooked clearance from Huntington as he crossed low in search of Miller and Lawrence.
United utilised the outlet on the right to good effect moments later when Lawrence clipped the ball through for Amoo to chase. His cross from the corner flag had the crowd excited but Miller had made a run to the near post and it flew harmlessly away.
It was all Carlisle and a Berrett corner caused problems as Preston struggled to clear. Thirlwell held his position and his first time volley needed a block as it angled towards the target.
Referee Eddie Ilderton ignored loud appeals for a free kick on the edge of the area as Lawrence tumbled to the floor and Preston found themselves penned back as the blue shirts worked hard to keep the action in the visiting half.
The Lilywhites finally created an opening on 18 minutes when Welsh worked a one-two in the centre circle. He took two steps and let one fly from distance which whisked just over the bar.
A deep free kick from Berrett was nodded back into the mix by Ehmer and a weak punch from Rudd left Lawrence with the ball at his feet. Humphrey reacted quickly to close him down and the young striker lost the chance to make his mark.
It was disappointment all round in the home stands when Max Ehmer had a goal chalked off for offside just before the half hour. Berrett clipped the ball in for a Miller flick and the celebrations were cut short as Ehmer looked to the assistant in frustration as he looped a lovely header over the stranded stopper.
Preston came into the game more ahead of the break and they were forward in numbers when Lawrence hesitated just inside his own half. Humphrey overlapped and his cross had to be headed clear by O'Hanlon as King moved to intervene.
O'Hanlon and King went head to head again as another cross curled in from the right hand touchline and the good spell from the visitors was rounded off with a beauty of a goal as Kilkenny sparked a meaningful attack. Josh Brownhill needed just one touch as he opened himself up before sweeping a dipping 20-yard effort into the top corner.
A late set piece for the home side had Preston stretched but Ehmer was off balance as he leaned back and lashed the loose ball into the stands.
Carlisle were on the attack within ten seconds of the second half kick off when David Amoo latched onto a misplaced pass. He dropped a shoulder and shot low but it was always going wide.
Tom Clarke had an ambitious attempt from wide on the right, as Preston sprung forward from the goal kick, but Amos collected comfortably as it bounced at his feet.
The visitors should have doubled their lead on 50 minutes when Andy Welsh skipped his way to the byline. His deft cross was a chance on a plate for Andy King but Amos somehow completed a wonderful one-handed save as he stopped the point blank effort on the line.
United kept going and tenacity from Berrett put Amoo into a crossing position. His delivery was sharp but well in front of the attacking front line.
It was end to end and Welsh sauntered back from an offside position to nick the ball off O'Hanlon. The defender recovered to slide in and make the block.
Humphrey was next to try his luck when Lawrence tried to nick it round him inside his own area. O'Hanlon was, once again, the man to make the vital block as the midfielder advanced on goal.
A 25-yard free kick from Morris fizzed over the bar as Carlisle looked to set pieces to help them to raise their game, and Buaben earned himself a round of applause when he dropped his shoulder and let one go from 25 yards. Rudd watched it all the way and pulled it into his chest.
A string of Berrett corners raised home crowd noise levels but Preston held their concentration and the spell of sustained pressure came to an end when O'Hanlon headed high.
Carlisle threw men forward as Preston defended deep but it was frustration for the blue shirts as their procession of crosses were met with clearances at the near post.
But Rudd received pats on the back from his team mates on 80 minutes when the ball broke for Lawrence. His fierce volley took a deflection which the keeper somehow managed to block with an outstretched leg. Thirlwell followed up but another brave block denied him what looked to be a certain goal.
United kept the pressure on but solid defending restricted the opportunities with Thirlwell and Berrett having more goal-bound shots blocked as bodies flooded the box.
Preston sat deeper and deeper, and attacked on the break, and their resilience earned them a return to winning ways as they continued their impressive run of away form.
Preston - Brownhill (42)
United - Guy (84)
Carlisle United - Amos, Potts, O'Hanlon, Ehmer, Morris (Guy 79), Thirlwell (Noble 85), Buaben (Chantler 70), Berrett, Amoo, Miller, Lawrence. Subs - Fleming, Roddan, Beck, Brough.
Preston North End - Rudd, Huntington, Clarke, Wright, Humphrey (Holmes 81), Gallagher (Laird 83), Buchanan, Welsh, King, Brownhill, Kilkenny (Keane 90). Subs - Stuckmann, Beavon, Monakana, Hume.
Referee - Mr Eddie Ilderton
Attendance - 7,934 (1,773 away fans)