A number of individuals have played vital roles to the recent success of Shepherd University’s football team.

However, two of the most crucial contributors have been junior running back Dervon Wallace and senior safety Dan Peters.

Wallace, a 5-8, 174-pound scat-back from Lusby, Md., transferred to Shepherd after spending his freshman season at West Virginia State where he carried the ball 63 times for 478 yards in the fall of 2003.

In 2005 Wallace returned to the field for the Rams, eventually worked his way into the starting lineup at mid-season and has become the target opposing defenses facing Shepherd tend to key upon.

Last year in helping to lead the Rams to a perfect 11-0 regular season, the West Virginia Conference title and a berth in the NCAA Division II playoffs, Wallace ran for 1,389 yards on 245 carries and caught 19 passes for 193 yards. He set Shepherd and WVC single-season records for most points (162), most touchdowns (27) and most rushing touchdowns (26). He also rushed for 100 or more yards nine times.

This year Wallace has picked up where he left off. The talented youngster has 623 yards and eight touchdowns on just 97 carries. He’s currently ninth in the nation in D-II in rushing and has gone over the 190-yard mark in each of his last two games bringing his career total of 100-yard rushing games at Shepherd to 11.

“Whether I run for 100 yards or 10 yards, as long as we win I feel I am being successful,” said Wallace. “I’m only going to do as well as the offensive line allows me. My success is based on their success.”

While Wallace has tended to give opposing defenses fits in recent games, Peters has terrorized opposing offenses for the Rams. The 6-foot, 211-pounder from Cresson, Pa. was the defensive player of the year in the WVC last fall when he intercepted 12 passes to lead the nation. A starter since his sophomore season, Peters recorded 57 tackles last year recovered a pair of fumbles and garnered first-team All-America honors.

This fall Peters too has picked up (or picked off if you will) where he left off. He has five interceptions, which is tops in the WVC and tied for second in the nation. His 23 career interceptions has him currently tied for fifth all-time in West Virginia Conference history.

‘We’ve gotten off to a great start this season,” said Peters. “I personally feel it’s not how you start, but how you finish. I need to keep working hard to make plays on the field.”

Both Wallace and Peters will display their talents this Saturday at 1 p.m. when Shepherd plays host to Fairmont State University at Ram Stadium.

The 4-0 Rams bring a 22-game regular-season winning streak into the contest with the Falcons who are 1-3 overall and just got their first victory of the season last week with a 14-0 victory over West Virginia State.

Last year Shepherd rallied in the second half to record a hard-fought 14-11 victory over Fairmont. It was the Rams’ fifth straight victory over the Falcons.

“The winning streak is always good, but we’re more focused on 4-0 and getting to 5-0,” said Wallace. “The Fairmont defense played really tough last year. We luckily came out with the win. I expect the same this week. I hope we’re ready.”

Peters agrees.

“We have had an excellent start, but we can still be better,” he said. “I think we have room for improvement on defense and special teams. We need to be more consistent.

“Fairmont came ready to play last year and a couple of things went our way and we were able to pull out the win at the end. I’m sure they’ll be ready for us this year.”

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