When DuVal junior Corey Phillips landed on a bouncing ball in the C.H. Flowers end zone in the second quarter of a 40-19 win Friday night — the first touchdown he’d ever scored — his No. 16 Tigers took a three-score lead over a Jaguars team with an identical 7-1 record that was supposed to be their equal.

By the time Phillips returned an interception for his second career touchdown two quarters later, DuVal had taken a 27-point lead, and in the process established itself as the likely No. 2 seed in Maryland’s 4A South region.

“The defense made some big plays today, especially Corey,” senior running back Terrance Davenport said. “We shocked the world yet again [with the lopsided win] — it feels really good.”

Coming into Friday’s game, the only “L” on both the Tigers’ and Jaguars’ schedules was next to undefeated No. 6 Suitland’s name. So when the outcome was essentially sealed as early as Phillips’s second-quarter score, it was surprising, if not earth-shattering as Davenport suggested. But while the Tigers’ high-powered offense and standout sophomore quarterback Antoine Brooks have turned heads in Prince George’s County this season, it was Phillips and the defense that proved the difference against Flowers.

Tiger defenders forced two turnovers and five punts, hassling Jaguars quarterback Malik White nearly every time he dropped back to pass with a perpetually penetrating pass rush. White was forced from the game in the third quarter with what Flowers Coach Mike Mayo called a knee injury, leaving Brian Brown to suffer a similar fate in the second half. Brown completed two passes for 31 yards, both last-ditch tosses after a scramble thrown as DuVal defenders dragged him down. The defense scored just seven points fewer (12) than it allowed (19), thanks in large part to Phillips.

“I’m happy to have [Phillips] back next year. He’s just a baller,” said DuVal Coach Dameon Powell. “He didn’t play last year, so I just told him to keep fighting and fighting. He’s getting better every day.”

Phillips said he had to work his way into the lineup and then the first-team linebacking corps after not playing last season, a process that culminated in the most statistically rewarding game of his career.

“I feel great,” Phillips said. “All we wanted to do was come out to play hard, play tough, and make all our assignments. Then get the job done.”

DuVal’s offense didn’t exactly take a night off, either. Brooks threw for 104 yards, including one highlight-reel touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Jamal Woodland on a perfectly placed toss to the end zone. Woodland caught two passes for 65 yards and ran for a second touchdown.

“I feel good about where we are, but it gets tougher. It gets faster in the playoffs,” Powell said. “I think we’re doing all the right things, we just have to make sure they stay focused.”