Citadel kicker Cody Clark

Graduate student transfer Cody Clark has made 7 of 9 field goals for The Citadel this season. (Zach Bland/Citadel Athletics)

A 16-game losing streak to Wofford? Repeated Citadel heartbreak at Gibbs Stadium?

Cody Clark knew nothing of all that when he booted a 21-yard field goal in overtime to lift The Citadel to a 24-21 win over Wofford last week, the Bulldogs' first victory in Spartanburg since 1998.

"The only Citadel I know," Clark said after the game, "is 7-0."

Clark, who transferred to The Citadel as a graduate student from Middle Tennessee State during the offseason, is a big reason the Bulldogs are one of two undefeated teams left in FCS and ranked No. 7 in the coaches poll heading into Saturday's game against ETSU at Johnson Hagood Stadium.

He's made 7 of 9 field goal tries this year, leading the Southern Conference at 77.8 percent, and some of those kicks have been huge. His 35-yarder with 2:20 left - on his first field goal try as a Bulldog - provided the winning points in the season-opening win at Mercer.

And in narrow wins over Gardner-Webb and Chattanooga, Clark booted field goals of 45 and 32 yards in the final minute of each game to seal the victories.

The Bulldogs' success has been especially gratifying for Clark, whose career at MTSU was marred by a troubled relationship with coach Rick Stockstill.

"I have a different perspective from everybody else, I think," Clark said after the Wofford game. "I think, 'Why can't we be the best team in the country?' I love this team and this coaching staff. This experience has made up for the last four years of my college experience. It's been a fun ride, and I'm glad I'm here."

Clark, from Watkinsville, Ga., was a walk-on at MTSU who earned a scholarship as a sophomore after making 12 of 16 field goals as a redshirt freshman. As a scholarship kicker in 2014, he made 9 of 15 field goals and all 46 of his extra points, but missed his final four field-goal tries of the season.

He lost his scholarship for the 2015 season under controversial circumstances, forcing him to again kick as a walk-on as a redshirt junior. Clark missed a 43-yard field goal as time expired in a 27-25 loss to Illinois, and afterwards Stockstill said he didn't have much confidence in the kicker.

"Not really. I mean we've been inconsistent this whole year," Stockstill said after the game. "I'm not going to lie to you and say I thought he was going to make it."

Despite all that, Clark made 12 of 16 field goals and all 56 of his extra points in 2015. He finished his career at MTSU making 33 of 47 field goals and all 148 extra points, his field-goal percentage of 70.2 the third-best in school history.

But after the season was over, it was clear to Clark that he needed to move on. 

As it happened, The Citadel - with freshman Jacob Godek coming in to replace Eric Goins - was in need of an experienced kicker.

"Cody has fit in since day one," Citadel coach Brent Thompson said Tuesday at his weekly news conference. "It's always a concern when you bring outside people in, especially to a different situation like we have here. He's got to fit in in the locker room, and he's got to sort of blend in here at The Citadel."

Thompson said Clark's work ethic over the summer impressed his new teammates.

"He was involved in all the conditioning and all the weight-lifting," he said. "That's where the guys started to accept him. (Strength coach) Donnell Boucher loves him in the weight room, and he really is a good athlete. You wouldn't be afraid to pitch him the ball on some sort of fake, because he's that kind of athlete and you trust him that much."

In fact, Clark made two field goals in overtime at Wofford; the first, a 32-yarder, was taken off the board when Wofford was offside on the play. After his winning kick, Clark took care to name snapper Patrick Keefe and holder Will Vanvick in postgame interviews.

"I felt like all game, it was going to come down to a kick," he said. "I've been around long enough, played in enough games, where you kind of know when it's going to come down to you."

For Thompson, Clark has filled a gap and allowed freshman Godek, who has handled kickoffs this year, to ease into adding field-goal duties next season.

"The plan is working out the way I wanted it to," Thompson said. "Cody can help develop Jacob, and he can take over next year."

And for Clark, The Citadel has added some fun to a college career that had its share of stress.

"It's a special team," he said. "Because of what they go through outside of football, that military aspect, it forces them to come together even more. I was really surprised the way they took me in, and the atmosphere has been great."

Reach Jeff Hartsell at (843) 937-5596. Follow on Twitter @Jeff_fromthePC