Laurie Evans again rode to Warwickshire's rescue when making 137 to avert a crisis in the LV= County Championship Division One clash with Sussex at Edgbaston.
Although the champions polished off the visitors' first innings for 311 - loan signing Maurice Chambers taking 5-68 - their own top order crumbled as Steve Magoffin claimed his 50th and 51st wickets of the season without conceding a run.
With three batsmen dismissed for ducks, Warwickshire needed another major performance by Evans - the one player to have held his form in recent weeks - as they trimmed the deficit to 59 on closing the second day at 252 for six.
He has now made centuries in three successive home championship matches and this time a partnership of 137 with former Sussex wicketkeeper Tim Ambrose, who contributed 61, was crucial in correcting a dire situation at 47 for four.
Over the last couple of months Evans has consistently shown the ability to bat for a long time and in different situations.
This was one of the most testing and he survived with just the one obvious blemish when he was dropped at mid-on off Will Beer with his score on 45.
From there he played with increasing authority, reaching his hundred with a 15th four after facing 181 balls.
Chris Jordan finally ended the fifth-wicket stand when Ambrose gloved a lifter to point but Tom Milnes then helped add 66 before Evans clipped off-spinner Chris Nash to short midwicket for a smart catch by Ed Joyce.
At the start of the day, Sussex's overnight pair, Jordan and Beer, extended their partnership to 97 in 37 overs before Keith Barker and Chambers wrapped up the innings.
The ever-consistent Barker bowled Jordan for 61 with an in-swinger and Beer, on 31, strayed in front of a straight one from Chambers, who then knocked back Magoffin's middle stump.
Whether or not anything permanent comes out of Chambers' month at Edgbaston, he has put himself in the shop window by the simple virtue of bowling with good pace and control.
For Essex this is history repeating itself. Chambers is the first bowler to take five wickets on debut for Warwickshire since Chris Wright in 2010. He also arrived from Chelmsford on a loan deal that led to a contract and a championship triumph last summer.
Wickets continued to fall as Sussex's seamers got on a roll with the new ball. Magoffin fired out Varun Chopra and Ateeq Javid with slip catches and James Anyon broke Ian Westwood's resistance when the opener edged behind the wicket after making 16.
William Porterfield was then out fifth ball, another catch by wicketkeeper Ben Brown giving Magoffin 3-30 after 10 overs.