Surprise visit gives Mixon more than football to cheer about|[12/9/2005]

Published 12:00 am Friday, December 9, 2005

CLINTON – Every Friday night for the last two years, Patty Mixon could only watch her son play football on a balky internet connection or listen to her husband describe the action over the telephone.

Even so, she would still wake up at 3 a.m. every Friday night in Iraq and go through the routine. Afterward, she went to her civilian contractor job in Baghdad for a normal shift.

On Thursday, Mixon watched her son, Chris, play football again. Only this time it wasn’t in the desert heat of Iraq. It was in the bone-chilling cold of Mississippi College’s Robinson-Hale Stadium, in person for the first time.

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She watched as Chris, a senior at Porters Chapel Academy, made two solo tackles and assisted on three others, helping the North to a 28-7 win over the South in the Mississippi Private Schools Association all-star game.

&#8220It meant a lot, because I didn’t think she was going to be here and I didn’t think she was going to get a chance to see me play in high school,” Chris Mixon said. &#8220She got a chance to see me play one time. It meant a lot to me.”

The reunion between mother and son was a welcome early Christmas present. Patty Mixon wasn’t supposed to be home until later this month, but arranged to return to the United States a few weeks early to see Chris play football one last time.

She arrived in Mississippi on Monday, and the family kept her return a secret until Thursday afternoon, when she surprised Chris at a pregame banquet for the players and their families.

&#8220I had no idea she was here in town, then I look up and she was right in my face. It was pretty exciting to see her,” Chris Mixon said. &#8220I wasn’t in town, so it wasn’t that hard to keep it a secret.”

Once the game began, Mixon and his PCA teammate, Kenny Simms, did plenty of watching themselves. The pair spent all but one play of the game on defense, relegating them to the sidelines for most of the second half when the North took control.

The North opened the third quarter with a 12-play, 74-yard drive that was capped by Joe Greenlee’s 27-yard touchdown pass to Mark Noland on fourth-and-goal. It was the first of three epic scoring drives for the North, which controlled the ball for 24 minutes and 37 seconds in the final two quarters and scored 21 unanswered points after halftime.

Greenlee, a quarterback from Jackson Academy, completed 5 of 9 passes for 104 yards and two touchdowns in the game, caught a long pass to set up another score, and was named the game’s overall MVP.

Simms ran the ball one time on the North’s final possession, a 5-yard loss.

&#8220I didn’t get the play until we broke the huddle,” said Simms, who had two solo tackles and two assists on defense. &#8220I told (coaches) at the beginning of the week that I didn’t want to do offense. I strictly wanted to play defense. Then he said, ‘I want to see you run it once.’ I said, ‘OK, I warned you.’”