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November 14, 2013

The day when Zolak became a New Englander

Anniversary for former Pats backup QB and current radio show host and analyst

FOXBORO — Scott Zolak was driving home after another long day at the office — if you consider a four-hour (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) radio gig on FM 98.5 the Sports Hub and his “Patriots Today” TV/Website segment with Patriots head coach Bill Belichick work — when he was reminded about an anniversary coming up tomorrow.

Tomorrow is the 21st anniversary of the day that Zolak became the New England icon known as “Zo.”

“I’ll never forget it,” said Zolak, who is married with three children, Hadley (14), Samantha (9) and Brodie (4). “Tommy Hodson broke his wrist and I was starting against the Colts. We were 0-9. I had nothing to lose.

“I remember talking to my dad, who was my coach in high school and always there for help, the week leading up to the game,” said Zolak. “He said ‘You have Irving Fryar to throw to downfield, but if you are in trouble, you got a big tight end and (running back) Jon Vaughn to throw to. Be smart.”

The other interesting element to the game was that then-head coach Dick MacPherson was hospitalized with a stress-related issue and Dante Scarnecchia — still with the Patriots as their longtime offensive line coach — was head coach for a day.

“Scar was great,” recalled Zolak, who was drafted in the fourth round, 84th overall, in 1991 by the Patriots. “He said, ‘Let if fly ... Just go out there and compete.’”

Compete Zolak did. The Colts, 4-5 heading into the game, had never trailed in regulation, taking the lead five times before the Zolak-led Patriots tied the score each time, heading into overtime 34-34.

While there were many memorable moments this day, Zolak picked out his 65-yard touchdown hook-up with Greg McMurtry, with Colts ahead 21-14, as one of his all-time great plays as a Patriot.

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