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Chris Mixon leads Garden City past Long Beach in Nassau II semifinal

Chris Mixon #33 of Garden City rushes for

Chris Mixon #33 of Garden City rushes for a gain during the Nassau County varsity football Conference II semifinals against Long Beach at Hofstra University on Saturday, Nov. 12, 2016. Credit: James Escher

When it comes to mixin’ it up, few do it better than Garden City’s Chris Mixon.

“He’s tough, he’s fast and he’s smart,” Trojans coach Dave Ettinger said.

And Mixon was all over the field Saturday, scoring 23 points in myriad ways and leading Garden City to a 36-8 victory over Long Beach in a Nassau II semifinal at Hofstra.

Mixon scored the Trojans’ first three touchdowns – on a 2-yard run in the first quarter, a 16-yard pass from Colin Hart in the second quarter that put Garden City ahead to stay and a dazzling, gear-shifting inside-out 73-yard run in the third quarter. After that run, he had enough energy left to add the two-point conversion that made it 22-8.

Garden City (10-0) will face Carey next Saturday at 12:30 p.m. at Hofstra in the Nassau II title game. Long Beach finished 6-4.

“We pride ourselves on our defense, but we know we have plenty of offensive weapons, too,” said Mixon, a 5-11, 175-pound senior who rushed for 112 yards on 14 carries and caught two passes for 25 yards. “We had success running up the gut.”

That’s because Long Beach changed its defense after the regular-season meeting, won by GC, 28-0. “We’re more of an outside-running team, but they took that away,” Ettinger said. “So we went to the inside game.”

What didn’t change, and never seems to at Garden City, is the tradition of excellent defense. The Trojans have four shutouts this season and have allowed only 67 points. Eight of those came on Long Beach’s opening possession, however, when Sam Brown, after a deft play-fake, hit Thomas Rutherig for an 11-yard touchdown pass. Brown also completed a two-point conversion pass to Shamale Dennis for a rare Garden City deficit.

It didn’t last. The Marines did force a Garden City punt on the next possession, but Matt Granville got the ball back with the first of three Trojan picks, this one returned 17 yards to the 2, setting up Mixon’s first TD.

Defense also contributed to the go-ahead touchdown when Andrew DeSantis tipped a punt that wound up traveling six yards. The Trojans needed to march only 35 yards, with Mixon catching a swing pass from Hart for the TD, and Billy Rousakis adding the first of his four kicks to make it 14-8.

“We used a lot of different looks,” said Granville, who made five tackles. “All three picks came in man-to-man. We used stunts to send the pressure and were confident in our man coverage.”

Basically, they mixed it up.

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