FARGO — North Dakota State head football coach Matt Entz didn’t settle into watching Sunday night’s NFL preseason game between the Los Angeles Chargers and San Francisco 49ers until around the second quarter.

Entz was at a team activity making him a bit tardy for the start of the game that featured two former Bison teammates and quarterbacks. Chargers QB Easton Stick made his first NFL preseason start, while 49ers signal caller Trey Lance entered in the second quarter in a game that was televised on the NFL Network.

“What an opportunity for NDSU football, NDSU athletics,” Entz said after Monday’s practice. “I saw (athletic director) Matt Larsen here earlier today and it was almost like an infomercial about NDSU football. … Those two guys represent our program as well as you’re going to find. A lot of it has to do with their parents and the upbringing that they had.”

Stick played the entire first half as he’s competing with veteran Chase Daniel as the No. 2 quarterback behind starter Justin Herbert. The 6-foot-1, 224-pound Stick completed 10 of 14 passes for 85 yards and a touchdown.

 Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Easton Stick (2) looks to pass the ball in the first half of the game against the San Francisco 49ers at SoFi Stadium. Jayne Kamin-Oncea / USA Today Sports
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Easton Stick (2) looks to pass the ball in the first half of the game against the San Francisco 49ers at SoFi Stadium. Jayne Kamin-Oncea / USA Today Sports

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Stick showed his elusiveness with a scrambling 3-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Joshua Palmer with less than six minutes to play in the second half. Former Chargers quarterback Dan Fouts, who was on the NFL Network broadcast, raved about the play.

“I hate to make a wild comparison, but isn’t this Joe Montana to Dwight Clark in ‘The Catch.’ I know it’s not, but it’s a heck of a play by Stick," Fouts said.

Lance countered with a 5-yard touchdown pass to 49ers wide receiver Mohamed Sanu late in the second quarter. Lance, who San Francisco selected No. 3 overall in the most recent NFL Draft, came on in relief of veteran Jimmy Garoppolo, who started the game for the 49ers.

Stick and Lance both played the entire second quarter for their respective teams.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance (5) scrambles in the pocket before throwing a pass in the second half against the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium. Jayne Kamin-Oncea / USA Today Sports
San Francisco 49ers quarterback Trey Lance (5) scrambles in the pocket before throwing a pass in the second half against the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium. Jayne Kamin-Oncea / USA Today Sports

“How about North Dakota State?” Fouts said during the broadcast. “We’ve got Easton Stick starting for the Chargers and this No. 1 pick (Trey Lance) and don’t forget about Carson Wentz. … You talk about a quarterback factory, three in a row like that, and they never do anything but win games there for the Bison.”

The 6-foot-4, 220-pound Lance played into the third quarter and completed 8 of 14 passes for 102 yards and two touchdowns with an interception. Lance started slow, but completed 7 of his last 8 pass attempts for 93 yards and two TDs.

Lance’s last pass was a 16-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Travis Benjamin that gave the 49ers a 15-10 lead with 5 minutes, 1 second to play in the third quarter. That was the game’s final score.

Lance was a true freshman for the Bison in 2018 when Stick was the senior starter. Stick led the Bison to a 15-0 record and an NCAA Division I FCS national championship. In 2019, Lance guided NDSU to a 16-0 record and an FCS national title.

Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Easton Stick (2) scrambles for a first down as he escapes the grasp of San Francisco 49ers defensive end Arik Armstead (91) in the first half at SoFi Stadium. Jayne Kamin-Oncea / USA TODAY Sports
Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Easton Stick (2) scrambles for a first down as he escapes the grasp of San Francisco 49ers defensive end Arik Armstead (91) in the first half at SoFi Stadium. Jayne Kamin-Oncea / USA TODAY Sports

The handoff from Stick to Lance was seamless for the Bison. Stick took over the program from Carson Wentz, who the Philadelphia Eagles drafted with the No. 2 overall selection in the 2016 NFL Draft. Wentz is now with the Indianapolis Colts. The Chargers selected Stick in the fifth round of the 2019 NFL Draft.

“I think that says a lot about our program,” Entz said of the transitions between those quarterbacks. “Our veterans, the Cordell Volsons on our roster right now, the Phoenix Sproles, are doing the same thing for the younger guys. Trying to put in them what the veterans gave to them a couple years ago. … It’s selfless and part of the makeup of our program.”

Entz said the fact that an FCS program can have three consecutive starting quarterbacks taken in the NFL Draft, with two in the top three, shows there are no guarantees in recruiting.

“There is no exact science to recruiting,” Entz said. “Trust what you see as a program and we do. We make our own evaluation, we make our own decisions. We don’t chase stars or rankings from anyone. We’re going to find guys that fit our program and do a great job. I think you’re looking at three young men who threw the rankings out and just came in and got to work.

“We brag about this program being a developmental program. I think those three individuals are great examples of that.”