Accurate photometric CoRoT space observations of a secondary seismological target, HD 174884, led to the discovery that this star is an astrophysically important double-lined eclipsing spectroscopic binary in an eccentric orbit (e similar to 0.3), unusual for its short 3(d).65705 orbital period. The high eccentricity, coupled with the orientation of the binary orbit in space, explains the very unusual observed light curve with strongly unequal primary and secondary eclipses having the depth ratio of 1-to-100 in the CoRoT "seismo" passband. Without the high accuracy of the CoRoT photometry, the secondary eclipse, 1.5 mmag deep, would have gone unnoticed. A spectroscopic follow-up program provided 45 high dispersion spectra. The analysis of the CoRoT light curve was performed with an adapted version of PHOEBE that supports CoRoT passbands. The final solution was obtained by a simultaneous fitting of the light and the radial velocity curves. Individual star spectra were obtained by spectrum disentangling. The uncertainties of the fit were achieved by bootstrap resampling and the solution uniqueness was tested by heuristic scanning. The results provide a consistent picture of the system composed of two late B stars. The Fourier analysis of the light curve fit residuals yields two components, with orbital frequency multiples and an amplitude of similar to 0.1 mmag, which are tentatively interpreted as tidally induced pulsations. An extensive comparison with theoretical models is carried out by means of the Levenberg-Marquardt minimization technique, and the discrepancy between the models and the derived parameters is discussed. The best fitting models yield a young system age of 125 million years which is consistent with the eccentric orbit and synchronous component rotation at periastron.