The Hatters had to settle for a point in Nathan Jones' 300th game in charge as Sunderland netted a late equaliser in a 1-1 draw at a sold-out Kenilworth Road.
Town had led through Carlton Morris' eighth goal of the season in first-half injury-time, but the Black Cats grabbed a point with substitute Elliot Embleton's 77th minute leveller.
The gaffer made two changes for his milestone game in charge, Dan Potts captaining the side upon his return from illness and Henri Lansbury also back in the starting line-up after suffering from the same bug at Watford, joining Jordan Clark and Allan Campbell in midfield.
Pelly-Ruddock Mpanzu returned to the matchday squad and was amongst the seven substitutes, with Harry Cornick and Cameron Jerome both attacking options from the bench.
The Hatters were quick out of the blocks, Doughty's pressing winning the ball for Clark to feed Morris into the left side of the area, but the top scorer's low cross was just behind the debutant's stride into the six-yard box with just two minutes on the clock.
Town's early pressure was incessant, Morris then teeing Lansbury up for a 25-yarder that fizzed just the wrong side of the post, before Morris was denied an eighth goal of the season, first by a good save at hie near post by Anthony Patterson, then by a brave defensive block as he looked to smash Lockyer's back header from the resulting corner goalwards.
That was all in the opening six minutes, with the play almost exclusively in the Sunderland half for the opening ten minutes until the visitors began to hit on the break, Jack Clarke waltzing around three men before Horvath blocked with a strong hand at his near post before Dennis Cirkin headed the corner wide.
The Hatters were soon piling on the pressure at the other end though, Bree firing over from outside the box before Doughty thumped a 19th-minute header against the inside of the post from Bell's left-wing cross, Patterson doing well to deny Adebayo with a double save on the follow-up.
Clark went close to connecting with a right-wing Bree cross moments later, before Doughty - moments after being clattered into the advertising boards during an aerial challenge with Cirkin - became the first player to be shown a yellow card by referee James Linington, more for blocking the Sunderland left-back taking a quick free-kick than the foul that conceded it.
Visiting captain Corry Evans soon joined him for dissent towards Linington, then the Hatters were forced into a change on the half-hour when Lansbury went down innocuously after making a pass in the middle of Sunderland's half.
Luke Freeman came on in his place, and after Adebayo had been shown yellow for a foul on Amad Diallo, the visitors came as close as possible to a breakthrough when Danny Batth headed Alex Pritchard's outswinging free-kick against a post.
Freeman was soon picking Morris out in the box with a pinpoint cross, but Campbell couldn't quite make his knock-down in the six-yard box, before play switched to the other end and Horvath got down low to his left to push a dipping Diallo free-kick around the post.
With two minutes to go to half-time, the American had to make a carbon copy save from the same player, this time as he cut in from the right onto his left foot, before the Manchester United loanee had another go on 45 minutes, only to drag his shot wide.
The deserved breakthrough finally came two minutes into added time as Doughty beat Cirkin to the byline, pinged another terrific cross into the near post where Morris had stolen a yard on his man to steer the ball inside the post.
Patterson had to back-pedal to keep out a deep, inswinging cross from Doughty on 54 minutes as the Hatters went in search of a second goal, before Sunderland manager Tony Mowbray tried to spark a response by making a triple substitution on the hour.
Cirkin was eventually booked for pulling Adebayo down in full flow, then Patterson had to race out of his area to head clear as the Hatters striker looked to have broken clear on 64 minutes after Lockyer had won a fifty-fifty with Diallo, who wasn't happy with the challenge.
The Sunderland forward fired into the side-netting in the 69th-minute, before Jones made a triple switch of his own - Cornick on for Morris, Mpanzu on for Doughty and Bradley into the heart of the back three, replacing Campbell.
Mpanzu produced a spectacular interception on the stretch as Sunderland looked to get in direct from a Patterson kick, then Bell made a crucial block in the six-yard box, backing up Mpanzu's lunge, as Clarke slammed the ball goalward on 74 minutes.
The equaliser came in the 78th minute as Elliot Embleton steered Clarke's cut-back from the left byline past Horvath into the bottom corner, and the visitors' might have taken all three points in the closing stages, but thankfully Mpanzu got back to intercept Clarke's cross-shot, and Patrick Roberts' attempted curler didn't bend back enough to trouble the inside of the post.
Freeman had two volleys blocked with 90 minutes almost up, but the Hatters couldn't find a winner and had to settle for a point to remain ninth ahead of Reading's visit on Tuesday night.
Luton Town - Morris 45+2
Sunderland - Embleton 78'
Att: 10,060 (1,036 away)