After making 90 against Yorkshire last week – his highest score of the season so far – the 23-year-old England batsman again looked in good touch, reaching 61 not out including seven fours, three of them in an over from off-spinner Jack Carson, as Kent closed day two on 138 for two, a lead of 27.
Sussex had earlier taken a first-innings lead of 111 after being bowled out for 256 with on-loan seamer Matt Quinn picking up four wickets.
Kent lost two wickets in clearing their arrears with Jofra Archer and Ollie Robinson taking one each. Archer struck in the fifth and final over of his only spell when a big inswinger accounted for Jordan Cox (12) while Robinson had skipper Daniel Bell-Drummond (27) caught at third slip.
Quinn had earlier taken four for 54 with all four of his wickets coming during an excellent afternoon spell as Kent chipped away after Sussex had passed their first-innings 145 with four wickets down.
They had resumed on 51 for two and Stiaan van Zyl and Travis Head put on 52 in 14 overs, although Head (20) was dropped on ten by Jordan Cox at first slip before he was pinned by Darren Stevens’ late inswing.
Van Zyl (52) reached his fourth half-century of the season with a six off Nathan Gilchrist and also hit eight fours but was beaten by an inswinger in Gilchrist’s next over. Sussex rebuilt through Tom Clark and Ben Brown either side of lunch in a stand of 59 in 20 overs. Crawley put down Clark on 27 and the left-hander had reached 42 when Gilchrist bowled him around his legs with one that kept low.
Stevens picked up his third wicket when Brown (26) was beaten by late away movement before Quinn settled into a productive spell from the sea end.
The 28-year-old New Zealander is on a four-match loan spell from champions Essex and worked up a decent pace. He was slightly fortunate to claim his first wicket as the ball which had Delray Rawlins (6) lbw appeared to have pitched outside the line.
But George Garton (17) and Archer (2) were both beaten by good deliveries which moved away sharply off the seam and Quinn finished off the innings when Robinson (25) holed out to deep mid-wicket.
Sussex coach Ian Salisbury said: It’s a really good cricket wicket. Both sides have bowled well under the lights and there has been some good batting too. We battled hard for every run in the first innings then in the last session Zak Crawley played extremely well.
"Batting under lights is harder. Batsmen feel that with the conditions and the ball nipping around meant there was always a ball that could get you out. They are 27 ahead but it’s game on, especially if we can get a couple of wickets early tomorrow."