Fourth down and a piece of grass.
That’s how close Leilehua was to a first down.
With about three minutes left in the third quarter and with the ball at the Kahuku 6-yard-line on Friday, Mules quarterback Kalanimoku Pauole faded back and slipped as he let go of a pass to an open receiver near the end zone. The ball was underthrown and the eighth-ranked Red Raiders, leading 21-7, took over.
The game’s complexion could have changed dramatically if the Mules had four more downs and punched it in.
As it turned out, No. 4 Leilehua (5-1, 5-1 OIA Red) scored later to make it a 21-14 loss that put the Mules in a first-place tie with Kahuku.
“That’s why they call this a game of inches,” Kahuku’s public address announcer said after the official measurement that took longer than usual because of the difficulty the head official had in determining if there was space between the tip of the ball and the first-down marker.