ATHENS, Ohio — Eric Herman may have grown up in Oregon, and he may have played his high school football at Central Catholic.
But Herman calls Ohio University "home."
“I have thick roots in Athens,” Herman said before he and his Ohio University teammates played Bowling Green State University on Wednesday. “Ever since my sophomore year in high school, when my sister Ellen played volleyball here, I’ve spent a lot of time here.
“I love the coaching staff and I love the area. For me, this has been a great place to be, a great place to learn, and a great place to play.”
Ellen Herman was a two-time All-Ohio performer at Central Catholic who played for the Bobcats from 2006-09. She was a four-time All-Mid-American Conference first team choice who was the MAC player of the year as both a junior and senior.
The younger Herman, a senior for the Bobcats, also has made an impact at Ohio. The 6-foot-4, 319-pound redshirt senior is in his third year as a starter, and last season he was voted All-MAC second team.
Herman said those honors pale to the excitement surrounding the team, which won its first seven games and earned a spot in the Associated Press national rankings before suffering a loss at Miami that knocked the Bobcats out of the rankings.
“It’s been exciting to get all the accolades, but I feel we have earned them,” Herman said. “When we won [at Penn State], I think that opened a lot of eyes to people who realized we’re a great team.”
BG defensive tackle Chris Jones said he has been impressed by the play of Herman and the OU offensive line.
“Their offensive line is always one of the most physical I’ve gone against,” Jones said. “It’s going to be a good challenge for us.”
Herman was equally impressed with BG’s defensive line — “They all have great motors, and they play hard,” Herman said — but he said his unit’s physical play is by design.
“We’ve always have had a huge emphasis on being a four-quarter football team,” Herman said. “That’s the way we’re taught to play: They want us to play hard to get the best out of us, both on and off the field.”
Herman was one of 19 seniors honored on the field prior to the contest, which was Ohio’s final home game this season.
JUST FOR KICKS: Bowling Green’s punt team had an impressive first half, posting a blocked punt that led to a touchdown, a fumbled snap and tackle that led to a field goal, and a bad snap that led to a safety.
That safety marked the second time the Falcons’ punt-return team has scored this season. BooBoo Gates returned a punt 80 yards for a touchdown against Rhode Island.
The safety was the first for Bowling Green since Chris Jones recorded a safety at Idaho on Sept. 1, 2011.
BIG YARDAGE: BG quarterback Matt Schilz completed 5-of-10 passes for 84 yards in the first half, allowing him to pass the 7,000 yards passing mark for his career.
Schilz is just the fourth QB in school history to surpass 7,000 passing yards. The other three are Brian McClure (10,280), Tyler Sheehan (10,117), and Josh Harris (7,503).